The Spirit of Adoption 2

The Spirit of Adoption | Part 1 | Part 2

Biblical Text: Hos 11:1-11 ESV; Eph 1:3-10 ESV;  Gal 4:1-7 ESV;

THERE’S AN OLD SAYING,

“What the cross cleanses the Spirit fills.”

This sermon is about the taking away of judgement in the cross, next week will focus on the power of the Spirit in adoption.

BACKGROUND

ADOPTION

While I am generally hesitant about going outside of scripture to understand its metaphors, I think this can helpfully be done in the case of “adoption”. Whilst adoption was not practiced within the Old Testament, Paul’s adoption language is found in his letters to churches under Roman law1)See Biblical References Rom 8:15, 23 ESV; Rom 9:4 ESV; Gal 4:5 ESV; Eph 1:5 ESV

In Roman law the adoption of a son was usually delayed to teenage or older years, when the character of the adoptee had been established. An adopted son was freely chosen, desired and could never disowned.

All prior debts were erased, and new rights taken on. Unlike in modern society inheritance began with adoption, not the death of the father, the new son was a joint-sharer in all the father’s possessions from the beginning. This was an unforgettable honour.

The Roman understanding of adoption is of an overwhelmingly positive transaction, however true this may be at a human level, the true glories of adoption come together only in Jesus.

This is true because only the Son of God radically revolutionises our understanding of divine judgement.

I need to spend some time on as the usual human apprehension of the judgement of God because confused notions of punishment always distort our understanding of God as Father.

Judgement: Old Covenant

The glory of Israel was to be adopted by God (Rom 9:4 ESV), but her limitless shame came in descending to the point where her kings, officials, priests and prophets were saying “to a rock, ‘You are my father’(Jer 2:11, 27 ESV)Hosea reminds Israel they were to revel in the reality that they were “loved and called…my son” by a God who had drawn them “with cords of kindness with the bonds of love” radiating from “a heart” of “compassion warm and tender(Hos 11:1, 4, 8 ESV).

The wonders of knowing the Lord as such a delightful Father are however rare under the old covenant. Later in the same passage in Hosea we hear a testimony by God which explains why there is so much confusion about his character. “I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath. (Hosea 11:9 ESV).

Deep down in our limitless egocentricity we think God is like us (Ps 50:21 ESV)! When we believe our anger is justified because the guilt of an offending part is clear and their condemnation just, we will inevitably carry out judgement speedily (Ecc 8:11 ESV). The Lord is totally unlike this. Even in the Old Testament the highest point of divine joy is to say, “I have no wrath.(Isa 27:4 ESV).

God’s holiness means his judgement is altogether unlike that of any human authority. In Isaiah he describes his own judgement as a “strange” and “alien” work (Isa 28:21 ESV).

Rabbi Abraham Heschel isn’t far off the mark he says,

More profoundly are the words of P.T. Forsyth,

“To man, the anger of God incites the fear of pain, to God, the anger is pain.”

‘the Father suffered in His Son even more than the Son did’

A revelation of these truths brings a revelation of the true Fatherhood of God. This isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Judgement: Jesus

I once sent an email to a pastor who in a sermon described John the Baptist as “harsh and legalistic”. I believe his comments were a projection of his own painful experiences of being disciplined in childhood. After all, in the Spirit-inspired words of Scripture, John was sent vs.77to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, vs.78 because of the tender mercy of our God” (Luke 1:77-78 ESV). John is a preacher of “repentance” in the context, as Luke 3 puts it, of being a preacher of “the good news” (Luke 3:3, 18 ESV).

The painful discipline of God to which we are all subject is an expression of his tender-hearted loving Fatherhood, not a reminder of any human father/mother who might have failed to discipline us in love (cf. Heb 12:5-11 ESV). Human insensitivity regarding the true character of God as Father astonished even Jesus.

As late as the threshold of the cross, his intimate disciples of still didn’t get the Father-thing! “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9 ESV). If a noted bishop-theologian could say, “God is Christlike and in him is no un-Christlikeness at all’. (A. M. Ramsay), we must also say, “The Father is Son-like, and in him is no un-Son-likeness at all.” This relates directly to our dreadful fear of judgement (1 John 4:18 ESV).

Jesus declared, “For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgement to the Son, vs.23 that all may honour the Son, just as they honour the Father…. he has given him authority to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man.” (John 5:22-23, 27 ESV). Christ’s words mean we cannot separate being judged by God as Father from being judged by Jesus. Equality in judging has been shared by the Father with Christ as a human being (cf. John 17:2 ESV).

The Father judges in and through the Son as his perfect image2)See Biblical References Col 1:15-16 ESV cf. John 8:16 ESV.That Jesus is the agent of God’s judgement at the Last Judgement is a prominent theme in the New Testament3)See Biblical References Matt 25:31-32 ESV; John 5:27 ESV; Acts 10:42 ESV; Acts 17:31 ESV; Phil 2:10 ESV; 2 Tim 4:1 ESV; Rev 6:16 ESV and a source of confidence and exhilaration (Jude 1: 24 ESV).

The profound reality that someone like us, a fellow human, will be our Judge at the End cannot be separate from how God judges in the present, or from what happened at the cross.

One of my old mentors used to say, “the punishment for sin is sin” (Bingham, citing Augustine cf. Rev 22:11, 15 ESV). He based this conviction on Paul’s exposition of God’s wrath in Romans 1:18-32 ESV, where we are told repeatedly that “God gave them (idolatrous humanity) up to” ever increasing depravity (Rom 1: 24, 26, 28 ESV). This key expression, “gave up” is used later in Romans about how the Father handled Jesus, “He who did not spare his own Son butgave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:32 ESV).

The giving over of Jesus to the fulness of divine wrath at the cross (Rom 3:25 ESV) undoes his judgement against us. Whilst the “children of wrath”, as Paul puts it (Eph 2:3 ESV), have always been blind, passive and ignorant about their lost state, with eyes fully open Jesus agrees with the will of God that wrath fall on him.

His prayer in Gethsemane, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36 ESV) is the deepest possible cooperation of the will of man with the will of God revealed as a limitlessly intimate Father.

John MacLeod Campbell correctly says,

“This confession . . . must have been a perfect Amen in humanity to the judgement of God on the sin of man.”

John MacLeod Campbell

This union of wills grounded in eternity4)See Biblical References 1 Pet 1:20 ESV; Rev 13:8 ESV extends through the Passion of Jesus forever assuring us of salvation and restoration. In perfecting his union with the Father through obedient suffering5)See Biblical References Heb 2:10 ESV; Heb 5:9 ESV Jesus became the Judge slain and raised (Rev 5:6 ESV). At the limits of intelligibility, we must say that in Christ God (the Son) is the Judge judging himself in our place.

As a decision made by Father, Son and Spirit6)See Biblical References John 10:17-18 ESV; Heb 9:14 ESV the death of Jesus releases the presence and power of the Last Judgement. vs.31Now is the judgement of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. vs.32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.vs.33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.” (John 12:31-33 ESV). Calvin was right to say that the cross was the real “descent into hell”. “How was the humanity Jesus able to commit to such agonies?” Only through his Spirit- empowered relationship with the Father.

The Son knows he is absolutely loved. vs.17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. vs.18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.John 10:17-18 ESV (cf. John 3:35 ESV).

Knowing such love, Jesus’ heart was filled with faith that he could bring honour to God as a Father in a way that would abolish all the dishonour of humanity’s Fall into lost glory (Heb 12:2 ESV). From Adam to the prodigal son shame belongs to sons who dishonours their F/fathers7)See Biblical References Gen 2:25 – Gen 3:8-9 ESV; Prov 19:26 ESV; Prov 28:7 ESV; Luke 15:19, 21 ESV, but joy is a sign that a F/father has been honoured.

The joy enjoyed by Jesus in heaven has forever cast out all that would shame God’s children (Heb 12:2 ESV). What remains for us in Christ is God’s “good pleasure” as our Father8)See Biblical References Luke 12:32 ESV; Gal 1:15-16 ESV; Eph 1:5, 9 ESV; Phil 2:13 ESV.

Conclusion

The revelation of God in Christ testifies to a loving Father who can be grieved but is never wrathful or punishing towards his children9)See Biblical References Matt 3:17 ESV; Eph 1:6 ESV; Eph 5:1 ESV; 1 John 3:2 ESV.

To borrow some language from C.S. Lewis, the Father is totally good, even if according to our measure of thinking he is not “safe”.

For these truths to be prophetic, i.e. for them to witness to Jesus (Rev 19:10 ESV), I need to set them in the context of the current coronavirus crisis. The difference between those who have had a revelation of the goodness of fatherly discipline and those whose “guts” are impacted by the wrath of God will come to the surface more and more.

(This is the story line of the book of Revelation.)

By grace, the COVID 19 crisis can be a tremendous gift to the people of God. A gift whereby in the midst of turmoil, panic and confusion we can look to Jesus, who is the heart of the Father once for all unsurpassably revealed to the world (John 1:18 ESV).

Anyone who by faith looks only to Jesus will be supernaturally and wonderfully stilled.

This is the true state of the sons God. Praise the Lord.


MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 28th March 2020

Author: Dr. John Yates

Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST:

N/A

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Rom 8:15, 23 ESV; Rom 9:4 ESV; Gal 4:5 ESV; Eph 1:5 ESV
2. See Biblical References Col 1:15-16 ESV cf. John 8:16 ESV
3. See Biblical References Matt 25:31-32 ESV; John 5:27 ESV; Acts 10:42 ESV; Acts 17:31 ESV; Phil 2:10 ESV; 2 Tim 4:1 ESV; Rev 6:16 ESV
4. See Biblical References 1 Pet 1:20 ESV; Rev 13:8 ESV
5. See Biblical References Heb 2:10 ESV; Heb 5:9 ESV
6. See Biblical References John 10:17-18 ESV; Heb 9:14 ESV
7. See Biblical References Gen 2:25 – Gen 3:8-9 ESV; Prov 19:26 ESV; Prov 28:7 ESV; Luke 15:19, 21 ESV
8. See Biblical References Luke 12:32 ESV; Gal 1:15-16 ESV; Eph 1:5, 9 ESV; Phil 2:13 ESV
9. See Biblical References Matt 3:17 ESV; Eph 1:6 ESV; Eph 5:1 ESV; 1 John 3:2 ESV

Fire: Safe or Good?

      Personal Matters      

“There is nothing left in Yarloop. Everyplace we have been working in and holding services in is gone…. You can make plans for another meeting on the 17th unfortunately.” (Dr. Bob Chapman). So reads an email from an itinerant minister working to plant a church in the town of Yarloop, where I was due to preach this Sunday. With 2 dead and 140 homes destroyed by a raging inferno the media have been speaking constantly of a “war against mother nature”.

Since “mother nature” is blameless the rage of traumatised former Yarloop residents has fallen on the failure of government care.  

Our sense that the world should not be so cruel is inborn, blame must be placed somewhere.

One dialogue partner is absent from the endless media and talkback reports over these fires.

Compare this omission to the response to the Lisbon earthquake disaster in 1755.

730__Chap8Fig1-Lisbon1755TsunamiSince it was All Saints Day the churches were crowded when the quake struck and thousands were crushed as the buildings collapsed.

The Jesuits quickly attributed the disaster to God’s wrath, but since the red-light district was untouched thinking people were not persuaded.

Across Europe philosophers turned to a purely scientific explanation of the quake and the discipline of seismology was born.

Enlightened European humanism was on the rise and the notion of a God of love-and-wrath was pushed more and more to the margins.

Who will introduce the notion of such a deity back into cultural conversation?

Certainly not our media nor the shallow mainstream Church.

When a society no longer instinctively holds God responsible for its ills we are in a very dire spiritual situation.

      Nature God Goodness      

Once Westerners looked upon the world as the product of a mighty act of the Creator (Gen 1:1ff; Prov 8:22ff.).

Today the power and might of nature and humanity are seen solely as properties of complex material interactions.

Human nature no longer implies the image of God but the result of natural selection.

No one however can consistently live like as if life can be reduced to biology.

Anger at apparently unnecessary suffering makes sense if there is a God of love and humans are in his image; but what’s the point of raging against the machine if the ultimate reality to which we must bow is an impersonal universe? Few understand this.

Tragically, the everyday consciousness of the average Australian has been so stripped of awareness of the divine glory in their own humanity that not even insurance companies believe that natural disasters are “acts of God”1)http://www.insurancecouncil.com.au/assets/files/urban%20myths.pdf see p.13 for an illuminating cartoon!.

When Danny Nalliah declared that the disastrous Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria were the result of the decriminalisation of abortion he was treated as a nut case by the press and disowned by the Church. Nalliah was unwise to speak of the wrath of God as he did, but Christians must believe that the Lord is ultimately responsible for the fact that “natural” disasters happen in his creation. Otherwise “God” is not sovereign (Isa 45:7; Amos 3:6). Who however dares teach these things?

Like frightened children the Church has substituted a message of safety for goodness.

In a famous passage from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe little Lucy asks Mr. Beaver about Aslan, “Then he isn’t safe?”, Beaver replies; “Who said anything about safe? Course’ he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

Popular preachers love Romans 8:28; “for those who love God all things work together for good,” but they will never tie it to the preceding affirmation that “the creation (all things) has been subject to futility” by its Maker (Rom 8:21).

After the Fall of Adam God handed the world over to seemingly unnecessary meaningless disorder and suffering, not as an act of blind rage but as a sign of the unnecessary and meaningless character of our sin!

The brutality of the world is not an unintelligible act of an impersonal “mother” called “nature” but a witness to a Father whose discipline is meant to bring our race to its senses; “For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” (Isa 26:9).

Natural disasters image back to us what we have become and warn us of the wrath to come.

Where the Lisbon Jesuits and Danny Nalliah were wrong was in connecting God’s judgement to individual cases of sinfulness. Rejecting the suggestion some Jews perished by misfortune because they were “worse sinners” than others Jesus warned; “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”” (Luke 13:5).

Only Jesus can help us understand them “the kindness and severity of God”
 (Rom 11:22).

      Help us Jesus      

To a fallen human conscience the meaning of pain is pain; it is unnecessary, meaningless, useless.

Jesus however reveals the Father’s heart by freely embracing temptation, hunger, thirst, tiredness, rejection and finally the pain of the cross for others. Christ’s tears over human suffering reveal that the true God “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked”; whether such death comes by “natural” causes or in “natural” disasters (Luke 19:41; John 11:35; 17:3; Ezek 33:11).

The Word of God reveals that the Lord’s own anger is alien to his heart, but this revelation is found in only one place, the cross (Isa 28:21; Lam 3:33; John 1:18).

The cry of bewilderment “Why have you forsaken me?” marks the point where the fallen human experience of suffering as unnecessary and meaningless is carried by Jesus on our behalf (Mark 15:34).

The outpouring of divine wrath on our unnecessary and meaningless sin in Christ is the final revelation that God loves us (Rom 3:25; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 John 4:10).

Through the cross we see that the bearing of suffering for others is the true image and glory of God.

Dying in this way of absolute love Jesus’ precipitates a resurrection and the creation of a new heavens and earth (cf. 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 4:24).

The lesson of the cross is that the greater the manifestation of the wrath of God the greater the opportunity to suffer for others to the glory of God.

The Early Church understood this; it grew most quickly when plagues hit the Roman Empire, for only the Christians risked their lives to nurse sick sinners. Today there are vast opportunities to reveal Christ by relieving suffering in the midst of poverty, stress, “natural” disaster, sickness and relational breakdown.

These are opportunities to live out the gospel of the substitutionary death-and-resurrection of the Son of God.

      Conclusion      

natural_disaster
terror-01

With “natural” disasters on one side and terrorists on the other the world seems a crazy place; but it is no match for the crazy love of the cross.

Abiding in the death of Jesus the Christian can manifest a peace that no one in the world can attain (Col 1:20).

It is time to move on from our childish obsessions about personal safety to embrace the great vision of the goodness of God in the way of the cross (1 Cor 13:11).

Be warned however, such a way of life will not make sense to most contemporary comfortable Christians.

But a life of bearing suffering for those in pain leads not only to rejection but also to the revelation of the glory of God.

Yarloop is gone, someday soon this entire world as we know it will be burnt out too, but those who walk in the painful goodness of the cross will never be destroyed but reflect the image and glory of the Lamb of God forever (Matt 13:43; Mark 10:38-39; Heb 10:39; 2 Pet 3:10-13).

p.s.
If you really want to blame someone for the ills of the world start with your own Adamic nature, which, with Satan’s help, is the cause of all unnecessary and meaningless suffering (Gen 3).

References   [ + ]

1. http://www.insurancecouncil.com.au/assets/files/urban%20myths.pdf see p.13 for an illuminating cartoon!

Different but the same

by Rev Gary Green
Four Corner Ministries


Ephesians 2:8-9

New International Version (NIV)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Editors Notes: 

A small detail we are all the same so it would do us well to put away any self-righteous fingers we may feel tempted to use at others.

Soberly remember your former state before God and also the fact that you’ll surely sin more before you pass through to eternity and will need to draw down on the account of grace deeply many times to come.

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Boundaries (love or hate)

by Rev Gary Green
Four Corner Ministries

No matter what they are what they are & have a Purpose!

Exercising self-control and self-discipline, and establishing boundaries and borders in our life are some of the most important things we can do.

A life that has no discipline is one that’s filled with carelessness.
The Word of God establishes the necessary boundaries to keep us in God’s safety zone. It tells us what we can do, and what we better not do, to be safe.

As Christians we can think it’s kind of exciting to live life on the edge. We like the image of “Yeah! That’s me! Living on the edge!” It’s become a popular way of looking at life. But to be honest, God doesn’t want us living on the edge, because if we’re living on the edge, then we have no margin for error.

Highways have lines, one on each side and one in the center. These lines provide margins for our safety while we’re driving. If we go over the line on one side, we’ll go into the ditch. If we cross over the line in the middle, we could get killed. We like those lines because they help keep us safe.

It’s like that in our personal lives, too. When we have boundaries, borders, and margins, we feel much better and experience God’s peace.

The key is to go to God’s Word, where He has laid out all the boundaries we need to live by. Let God direct your path every day.

By Joyce Myer
Prayer Starter: God, I recognize the need for boundaries in my life. As I read Your Word, show me how to apply Your healthy boundaries in my life today.

Rev. Gary’s thoughts:

 

We can try and split hairs with ourselves or others but forget trying that trick on God.

He is the Righteous Judge and there is NO Shadows of Turning within Him
Wrong will be Wrong and Right will be Right, there will be absolutely NO areas of DOUBT, you’ll be inside the line or out. And being outside the line has serious eternal consequences.

 
A small piece of advise from an old dog.

Keep your life in the center of His word and Never Live it out on the Fringes, that’s like plying Russian Roulette with your eternal salvation.
HIGH STAKES 
with ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES

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Prepared for Judgment: The Queensland Floods as Gift and Call

by Dr. John Yates

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” (1 Peter 4:7)

Introduction

This teaching is a prophetic challenge to the sleeping church.  It is precipitated by prayer concerning God’s voice in the Queensland floods, but is not limited to this latest tragedy. I am not seeking to answer the question, “Where is God in this disaster?”, but endeavouring to relate the word of the Lord in a far more overall sense that will find continued application to the discipleship of nations.

The Biblical Frame

Satan is described in scripture as “the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev 12:9 cf. 1 John 5:10). This is certainly true of Australia, where both the general consciousness of God as Creator – Redeemer and as the Father of Jesus has plunged dramatically within a generation. Manifestly, our nation is not being discipled (Matt 28:19). This scandalous situation can be traced back to the failure of the Church to think and act as a community of the end-times1)In the New Testament the “last days” commenced with the coming of Jesus e.g. Acts 2: 17; 1 Tim 4:1; Heb 1:2; 1 Pet 1:20; 1 John 2:18..

Satan’s central strategy against the traditional great missionary nations of our planet, the (previous) Christian West, is to cause us to forget that there is a coming time of universal Judgement. He successfully achieves this through cultivating a climate of overwhelming prosperity that dulls our awareness of the reality of the End. We have not merely neglected the Last Judgement in our teaching and preaching, but have forgotten how to think and live as people who believe “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Pet 4:7).

Our churches are comfortable with three biblical spheres of preparation:

1. A prophetic/Elijah ministry that prepares believers to receive the healing presence of Jesus (Matt 3:1-3)

2. The “preparing of the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph 4:12).

3. The preparation of the Church as intimate Bride for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb(Rev 19:7).

We have however drastically neglected the last sphere of preparation, preparing the nations of the world for the Final Judgement.

The New Testament is saturated by such teaching. The message of the gospel of the kingdom of God, preached first by John the Baptist, then by Jesus and his apostles (Matt 3:2; Matt 4:17; Acts 28:31) is essentially a word that the “present form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor 7:31) because the King is coming back “soon” (Rev 21:20). The apostles preached a “new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1)with an intense realism because the awareness that this current cosmos is due to be “dissolved” (2 Pet 3:10) burned within them. In contrast contemporary Western Christians lacking a thorough eschatological (end-times) consciousness. This brings us to the eternal significance of the Queensland flood disaster.

The Current Queensland Crisis

Throughout the New Testament the flood of Noah is used as a prophetic sign of the breakdown of world order before the return of Christ (Matt 24:37-39; 1 Pet 3:19; 2 Pet 3:5-6). The wholesale destruction of property, livelihood and life in the torrents of irresistible surging waters is a clear prophetic symbol of the End that is coming upon this world. The meaning of such signs was self evident for ancient peoples, and still are for many in the Third World today.

Australians however are so insulated from the trials and tribulations of the natural world that we rarely have an opportunity to “see” just how finite and precarious is all our existence.  For this reason, however painful and paradoxical it may appear, we must receive this disaster as a gift from heaven. Such a scourge can however only be seen and received from the hands of a loving Father through the lens of the cross which opens our minds and hearts to the new world of resurrection life. Only through the prism of the gospel can we possible believe that the many prayers of Australian believers are being answered through the mechanism of unparalleled disaster.

In this catastrophe lies a message for the church which may activate it to disciple our country so that many receive eternal life. If the floods are a gift, then the church must answer the call, and the call is to rethink our whole way of “doing religion”. The Spirit is saying to the churches that the only way to be a Christian in the present is to be prepared to be a Christian at the End. This means to hang loose of all worldly possessions, privileges and perks, this is exactly what Jesus taught us about discipleship (Matt 16:24-26). It is impossible to image the coming end-and-rebirth of the universe (Matt 19:28) apart from a personal lifestyle of radical discipleship that openly challenges the Satanic stupor of endless success.

A Parable for this Hour

The Lord is speaking through the parable of the sheep and the goats of his return as Judge of the nations.  The climax of his teaching is dramatic, “And these (“goat nations”) will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous (“sheep nations”) into eternal life.” (Matt 25:46). The critical factor in determining the eternal fate of each people group is how they have treated “the least of these my brothers” (Matt 25:40), folk who were imprisoned, hungry, thirsty, naked and estranged. In Matthew’s Gospel these “brothers” are impoverished Christians who endure a flood of human and satanic wrath (Matt 10:23, 42; Matt 12:48-50; Matt 18:6, 10, 14) and whose desperate state of affairs brings the same revelation of a perishing world as a natural disaster.

Unlike us, the suffering church does not need torrential torrents to awake in them a desire to image Christ to a perishing world- their precarious state and gospel lifestyle impresses upon them the urgency of the last times in which we live. This is why the Lord works the miracles of his coming kingdom in their midst (Heb 10:5), and not in ours. Let us hear the warning of the Lord, if we continue to be ignorant of these “least brothers” both the Australian church and nation will remain under the blinding discipline of God.

Conclusion

Jesus is running out of options to get our attention and to realign our priorities. If natural disasters do not awaken us to the fact that “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Pet 4:7) we are hard hearted people indeed. If we will not listen to the Lord speaking to us through our suffering brothers and sisters our state is almost irremediable. The final gift that he will be constrained to send in order to call the church to the task of discipling the nations will be serious social persecution, even in laid back Aussie-land.  There will come to pass Christ’s prophetic words, “you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matt 24:9).

These are some of the lessons sent down from heaven with the rains that caused the Queensland floods, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev 2:7).

References   [ + ]

1. In the New Testament the “last days” commenced with the coming of Jesus e.g. Acts 2: 17; 1 Tim 4:1; Heb 1:2; 1 Pet 1:20; 1 John 2:18.

Judgement has been Taken Away: Part 2

by Dr. John Yates

The Church and Judgement

The Evangelical church has long debated the relationship between law and gospel.1)See for example the online discussion on Ray Comfort’s book, “Hell’s Best Kept Secret”, The scripture however never urges the gospel preacher to draw out people’s guilt by “breaking them on the law”. We do not come to Sinai but to the heavenly mountain where Jesus blood pleads for forgiveness – there is no blame in the heart of God.2)Hebrews 12:18- 24 Both the Old Testament law and the law of culture (Rom 2) have zero status before God in relation to salvation. What conceals this is the complex of law –sin – wrath and what reveals annulment of the power of law is “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” the “one mediator between God and men”.3)1 Tim 2:5

The judgement on the church that keeps it from genuine revival is that we have often framed our whole organisation on the opinions and approval of others and have consequently come under demonic influence.4)In Galatians and Colossians Paul uses a Greek term, stoicheia, that is best translated “elemental spirits” [Gal 4:3; Col 2:8, 20]. He refers to demonic beings that cripple the spiritual freedom of the church through rules and regulations. What our conscience sows in attributing authority to people with status, particularly church leaders, it reaps when they fail us. God recently revealed this to me in a dramatic way. On the 12th April 2007 I had a deeply penetrating dream that focused on two people who had positions of great influence in churches where I was once serving.

In the dream, as in real life, they both gave testimony against me that amounted to a public betrayal of shared confidences with devastating effect. In praying into this I sensed the Spirit speaking to me about how in my conscience I had elevated the authority of these folks because I greatly admired their abilities. (One was an intuitive genius, the other a powerful intellect). The pain they caused me was founded on my putting trust in the clarity of their judgements.

This caused me to lose my sense of “peace with God” (Rom 5:1) so that I was not enjoying the zone of no judgement and the “abundant life” of Jesus (John 10:10).5)My inner torment was clear evidence I had sinned by not following the Spirit, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace”[Rom 8:6]. God the Spirit is saying to the church in WA that he is seeking to bring a freedom from the tribunal of human conscience expressed in the laws of culture and church. I sense that many churches have become “theatres of fear”; the power of our humanity that should be released in the power of the Spirit is draining out of their lives to sustain a system that works through implied judgement.6)All control works through coerced agreement underwritten by the fear of punishment. I do not know how many times genuine believers have asked me timidly about tithing, a subject which is totally absent in the New Testament for new covenant believers. No one can tell you that God’s approval on your life is dependent upon your prosperity, your church attendance, your Bible reading, praying, witnessing, giving to the poor….all these are human rules, the substance is Christ.7)Colossians 2:17. I am not saying that all these things are unhelpful, but I am saying they are only helpful within the zone of grace, not religious law. Your pastor/priest/minister/church cannot save you, Jesus has saved you and he has totally saved you!8)he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him” [Heb 7:25]

Who has the authority today to speak the “full gospel”, to proclaim the gospel as it is? To speak as I have sought to have done in this paper is to speak of both wrath and grace embraced in Jesus Christ. I believe the renewal we are praying for is not primarily individual but involves the emergence of a genuine Jesus community.9)Many Christians quickly lose their natural embeddedness in the wider community after conversion and surround themselves with walls of judgment upon the sins of society as a protection because of their fear of the world. 

A Community without Judgement

The Jesus community is a community without human judgementalism.10)Clearly, there are plenty of divinely inspired judgements in this community, e.g. on Ananias and Sapphira [Acts 5]; in disfellowshipping willfully sinning believers [1Cor 5]. The church that is one with the love and glory of God11)John 17:20 -23 is a different sort of community from any other human grouping. It is not based on self – interest or protective boundaries but totally centred on Christ.12)On the difference between bounded and centred sets see, for example, www.nextreformation.com/wpadmin/general/centered.htm The unity of the church formed by the gospel is a unity of conscience. This unity is not based on “values” e.g. whether Christians can divorce, nor on doctrine is e.g. about water or Spirit –baptism, neither is it a unity of denomination, but a unity grounded in the free forgiveness of the gospel.13)Whilst it appears that much of the contemporary seemingly church devalues doctrine as secondary, this stance is itself a doctrine that will be strongly defended by an unstable conscience.

The community of conscience will break all feelings of isolation/aloneness because it is grounded in the unconditional acceptance that we share in Christ. This is a supernatural community that God alone can create and it will prove marvellously attractive to those outside the kingdom of God.14)This language is descriptive not exclusive, Jesus called all to enter the kingdom of God but also spoke of those “outside” [Mark 4:11].

Who Will Respond?

A message that forms a visible community that neither passes legalistic judgement upon itself or those outside will be enormously appealing. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Matt 21:31). It is those that society calls “losers”, “low lives”, “Abo’s”, “no hopers”, “junkies”, “whores”, “poofs”, “rejects”, “spastics”, “backsliders” and all other manner of abusive language that will spontaneously, powerfully and irretrievably respond to the authentic message of the gospel. This prediction is not in any way speculative or theoretical, it is what we witness in the Gospels, Acts and in the history of revivals.

The only sin that finally resists the Spirit is self- righteousness, and the only final offence to God is to refuse to believe that Jesus is the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world.15)John 1:29; 1 John 2:2.“the wrath of the Lamb” is to be understood in this light, as a rejection of the need for the cross’s forgiveness [Rev 6:16; 14:10]. This is the flip side of our message.16)See for example Matthew 23; Luke 3:7 – 9 To actually believe these things is an enormous challenge for us, at one level a challenge as great for the church as in any time in history.

Firstly, the tremendous prosperity in WA can make us feel like our need for God is not desperate.17)A Christian friend returning to Perth to visit after 10 years in rural India said after visiting some church groups that the believers here had no hunger for God.

Secondly, the power structures of the church are deeply invested in maintaining the status quo. Those with the most to lose from a truly Spirit led move of God, Christian leaders, are also those with control of the microphone.18)The microphone – platform structure as it commonly functions is itself a typical manifestation of a hierarchical – mediatorial system.

Where is the space to proclaim this message?

Nevertheless, “what goes deepest to the conscience goes widest to the world” (P.T. Forsyth).19)Compare the famous words of Luther at the Diet of Worms [1521] which provoked the Protestant Reformation, “Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen. Since there is no higher authority in human experience than a conscience that knows that it has been declared acceptable to God before his judgment throne, once the good news of “judgement taken away” takes root no human power can stop it. The church begins to expand spontaneously.

Conclusion

There are many signs that we are on the verge of a radical transformation in the church. More and more sincere and devout believers are frustrated with the institutional forms of church but no less committed to Jesus. Accounts of spiritual abuse and its devastating but illuminating impact seem endless. Many prophetic voices are advocating a move of the

Spirit, signs and wonders, healing power, postmodern modes of Christianity, missional church and so on.I am in agreement with the mood of many of these voices while at the same time trying to hear what God is saying at a more foundational level.20)This foundation is Christ [1 Cor 3:11; Eph 2:20]. There can only be a radical recalibrating of the church when there is a divinely inspired sovereign return to the message of the gospel that created the body of Christ in the beginning. As John the Baptist prepared for the coming King by proclaiming, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”, this is God’s word for today, “Judgement has been taken away.

References   [ + ]

1. See for example the online discussion on Ray Comfort’s book, “Hell’s Best Kept Secret”,
2. Hebrews 12:18- 24
3. 1 Tim 2:5
4. In Galatians and Colossians Paul uses a Greek term, stoicheia, that is best translated “elemental spirits” [Gal 4:3; Col 2:8, 20]. He refers to demonic beings that cripple the spiritual freedom of the church through rules and regulations.
5. My inner torment was clear evidence I had sinned by not following the Spirit, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace”[Rom 8:6].
6. All control works through coerced agreement underwritten by the fear of punishment. I do not know how many times genuine believers have asked me timidly about tithing, a subject which is totally absent in the New Testament for new covenant believers.
7. Colossians 2:17. I am not saying that all these things are unhelpful, but I am saying they are only helpful within the zone of grace, not religious law.
8. he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him” [Heb 7:25]
9. Many Christians quickly lose their natural embeddedness in the wider community after conversion and surround themselves with walls of judgment upon the sins of society as a protection because of their fear of the world.
10. Clearly, there are plenty of divinely inspired judgements in this community, e.g. on Ananias and Sapphira [Acts 5]; in disfellowshipping willfully sinning believers [1Cor 5].
11. John 17:20 -23
12. On the difference between bounded and centred sets see, for example, www.nextreformation.com/wpadmin/general/centered.htm
13. Whilst it appears that much of the contemporary seemingly church devalues doctrine as secondary, this stance is itself a doctrine that will be strongly defended by an unstable conscience.
14. This language is descriptive not exclusive, Jesus called all to enter the kingdom of God but also spoke of those “outside” [Mark 4:11].
15. John 1:29; 1 John 2:2.“the wrath of the Lamb” is to be understood in this light, as a rejection of the need for the cross’s forgiveness [Rev 6:16; 14:10].
16. See for example Matthew 23; Luke 3:7 – 9
17. A Christian friend returning to Perth to visit after 10 years in rural India said after visiting some church groups that the believers here had no hunger for God.
18. The microphone – platform structure as it commonly functions is itself a typical manifestation of a hierarchical – mediatorial system.
19. Compare the famous words of Luther at the Diet of Worms [1521] which provoked the Protestant Reformation, “Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.
20. This foundation is Christ [1 Cor 3:11; Eph 2:20].

Judgement has been Taken Away: Part 1

by Dr. John Yates

Introduction

Some years ago I was strongly directed to pray alone at night directly facing Uluru (Ayers Rock), in many ways the traditional spiritual centre of Australia.1)The aborigines who had accompanied us from the WA Goldfields told us that people from their tribe used to walk all the distance to the Rock for religious ceremonies. It is also a matter of common knowledge that the site is frequented by occult groups. As I walked to the Rock I was unusually conscious of two things, that I was being observed by unseen evil spiritual powers in a way I had never experienced before, and that many other Christians had prayed at the site before me.2)In the latter case, unwise believers that prayed against many things in an aggressive manner that amounted to cursing. Jesus taught, “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” [Luke 6:28 cf. Rom 12:14]. When I arrived within sight of Uluru I still had no idea what I was meant to pray, in fact, I really did not pray, but was led to proclaim something to the spiritual world over and over, “Judgement has been taken away.

This utterance was a declaration concerning the full and finished work of the cross,3)Consider, “The next day he (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”” [John 1:29]; “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” [John 12:31]. an objective statement that evil powers had no rights to the nation4)He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in it [the cross]” [Col 2:15] and that intercession for the salvation of Australia should proceed on that basis. I have never forgotten that incident and believe that in recent days the Holy Spirit has been deepening my understanding of the implications of the taking away of judgement.

What is Wrath?

When I think of judgment, I think of the wrath of God, a term and topic widely avoided today.5)The word “wrath” appears 212 times in the English Standard Version, 37 of these are in the New Testament. As this teaching will attempt to demonstrate, the omission of the topic of judgement in the contemporary Western church is a sign that our consciences are not at peace before God. There are two ways to think about wrath, externally or internally.6)Roughly corresponding to objective and subjective. There are many “prophecies” today that focus on the outer dimension7)The words of recently deceased Jerry Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority, have been repeated on TV and in print attributing the 9/11 disaster to the gays, pro –abortionists etc. drawing God’s judgement on America. e.g. Hurricane Katrina was an expression of God’s anger against the gays in New Orleans, and we have been warned by “prophetic voices” about an impending tsunami that will devastate Western Australia. Whilst I would not wish to totally discount such emphases8)All “natural disasters” are in the most general sense a function of God’s wrath against the sin of the human race cf. Rom 8:20-21. the most extensive commentary on the wrath of God in the Bible, Romans 1:18- 32, focuses on what wrath means within the subjective experience of people.

The fundamental content of the wrath of God is godlessness,9)v12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” [Eph 2:12] as someone said, “The punishment for sin is sin”.10)This is true because the worse thing that can happen to a human being is to exist in a state of sin separated from the glory of God [Rom 3:23]. According to Paul, the wrath of God “gives people over” to such things as “dishonorable passions”, “men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error”, “unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”11)See Rom 1:24-31.

The apostle climaxes this chapter with a statement that may surprise us, “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Rom 1:32).12)By this Paul means that all humans possess an objective, but not necessarily conscious, knowledge of God’s goodness and that they violate this willfully, “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God” [Rom 1:21]. Fallen people “know” they violate just standards of good and evil, because they still have a conscience.13)For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” [Rom 2:14-15] This is not conscience as a pure faculty,14)Conscience is not “the voice of God”, but can be “weak” [1 Cor 8:7], “doubting” [Rom 14:23], “seared” [1Tim 4:2]; “corrupt” [Tit 1:15], “evil” [Heb 10:22]. but conscience framed within the power of the laws of culture and religion. The judgement of the human conscience is severe and remorseless.15)When Paul says, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” [1 Cor 15:56], he does not simply mean the Old Testament law, but all law apart from grace . The content or experience of wrath is not a consciousness of sin towards God (especially in Christ), but of shame and guilt apart from God.

Allied to this is the terrible power of idolatry. Outside of Christ all humans are subservient to a range of idols; in our culture, especially amongst young people, the pressure to conform is enormous. Who wants to be told “get a life” or you are a “loser”?16)Simple questions like, “How do I look?” or “How did I sound?” betray such enslavement to the impression of others. Our idols cannot deliver us from the depths of shame and guilt because they are guilt laden, that is, deep down we know they are defective according to the dictates of our own conscience’s expectations.17)The rash of WA sportsmen involved in violence and drugs is a recent example, but few will actually let go of the cherished image of the hero.

How then can we expect them, as moral failures, to deliver us from our shame and guilt! In their hearts men and women know that their Cf. “Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone.” (Hos 4:17). idols and ideologies are morally defective, relational failures and lacking true glory18)This is the premise of Paul’s appeal to the idol – makers in Athens, “Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man”. [Acts 17:29].

Yet humans remain in the madness of idolatry rather than turn to the loving Father.19)Objectively, men and women know that the substitutes for the glory of God [Rom 1:18ff.] are inferior to the demands of their own conscience and needs. No idol can love perfectly, only the Father in Jesus does this [1 John 4:18]. Both atheism and religious violence have the same root. Devotees to the ideology of atheism typically reject an image of an unjust God that is the product of their own imagination. Religious fanatics worship a god seemingly less moral than even themselves.20)What I am suggesting, as in terrorist expressions of Islam, is that at some level the terrorist knows that Allah is unjust, but that they seek to repress this knowledge and convince themselves of the rightness of their religion by through extremism. [On this topic I recommend A Journey From Gods to Christ by Daniel Shayesteh.]ISBN: 0975601709 Such self- righteousness is the final obstacle to grace, as Jesus said to the Pharisees, ““If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” [John 9:41].

The fallen and deceived conscience of all humans creates a relational zone of shame and guilt around itself, both individually and corporately. This zone is an area of God – exclusion. The true and living God21)For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” [1 Thess 1:9]. is not allowed into this sphere, because the distorted conscience fears that he wills merciless punishment. The only thing that can free people from this dreadful state is the message, “Judgement has been taken away.22)By this, I am really referring to the gospel e.g. “by him [Jesus] everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” [Acts 13:39]; “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” [2 Cor 5:19]. This message alone has the power (Rom 1:16) to create a zone/ field where the guilty experience only grace.23)Jesus moved through life surrounded by such a space, this was irresistibly attractive to the sinners of his time e.g. Matt 9:10; Matt 11:19; Luke 15:1.

What is the Message of “Judgement Taken Away?”

Jesus said of himself, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17). In his initial vision casting sermon at Nazareth he quoted from Isaiah 61:1- 2, but intentionally omitted the line “the day of vengeance of our God.24)““The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”” [Luke 4:18–19]. This is because he came to remove wrath by dealing with the law.

A basic principle of scripture is that law brings a consciousness of sin.25)e.g. “through the law comes knowledge of sin” [Rom 3:20]; “if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin.” [Rom 7:7]. with a sense that we have not been all that we could have been. Law, including the laws imprinted upon the conscience by family, friends and culture, leave each of us

The result is humanly indelible shame and guilt.26)Hence the endless resorting to pleasure, possessions and position to remove the inner sense of emptiness. Jesus brings an end to any notion of keeping law (human or divine), as mediating our relationship with God. When Romans 10:4 says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” it uses a word that is commonly translated “perfection/goal”.27)Greek = telos In Jesus’ perfect righteousness we see the truth that is in every law fulfilled.28)This includes the glimpses of truth in all religious and moral systems for all time. Principally, this involves the work of the cross.

In the death of Jesus every human transgression29)I am here using “transgression” in the sense of the violation of a known law. has been punished so that in Christ no ground for God’s wrath remains. Objectively, sin as- atoned – for is the only form of sin that exists today. Whatever men and women may feel of the wrath of God through law, and the shame and guilt that ravages their inner being, such things are grounded in a deception that God is intrinsically angry with the human race. But the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is never in scripture called an “angry Father”.30)Another way of putting this is to say that inside of God there is no shame i.e. in the intra-trinitarian relationships into which Christ brings us e.g. “your life is hidden with Christ in God” Col 3:3.

What human beings need for salvation is not to lead better lives with greater conformity to some law, but revelation of what has happened through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Paul puts this in a very pronounced way at the start of Romans. “The righteousness of God is revealed” in “the gospel”(Rom 1:16- 17) as the power to remove “the wrath of God …revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18). Human beings have only one basic need, a heavenly revelation that their sin has been judged “once and for all” in Christ.31)He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.” [Heb 7:27. cf. Heb 9:26; Heb 10:10] Such a revelation creates faith in the goodness and justice of God and acceptance of his salvation.32)So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” [Rom 10:17]. Where a revelation of who God is in Christ occurs, salvation is a reality, or to put it most simply, revelation is reconciliation”.

The Christian experience of “Judgement Taken Away”

According to the New Testament, believers are to be presented by Christ to the Father on the day of judgement as “blameless”.33)he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love.” [ph 1:4]; “he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” [Col 1:22], “so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” [1 Thess 3:13] cf.Eph 1:4; Eph 5:27; Eph 5:23; Jude 1:24; Rev 14:5. The establishment of this blamelessness by grace is the perfection of the work of love, “v17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. v18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1John 4:17-18)

What God’s love “casts out” is not the genuine fear a son has of a loving Father, but the slavish fear that fears the penalty of the law. This is a fear of the consequences of sin, rather than a fear of God.34)For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”” [Rom 8:15]. A true Christian has “innocent fear”.35)Bernard of Clairvaux, On Loving God, 14.37

As the conscience of the Christian is progressively united with the conscience of Christ – which bears no guilt or shame, the believer shares Jesus’ inner knowing of himself as the Father knows him in love.

As the Word grows in us, so the field of blamelessness in and around us grows.

This is the expansion of the zone without judgement, a sphere which surrounds the throne of God in heaven.36)When John has a vision of the heavenly throne room and “around the throne was a rainbow” [Rev 4:3] we are reminded of the ancient covenant sign given to Noah of divine mercy [Gen 9:11-17]. The judgement seat of God is truly a “throne of grace” [Heb 4:16]

Our great need is to hear from the judgement seat of God in such a way that we are deaf to all other voices of judgement.37)Note how Paul refuses to pass judgment on himself, “ But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.” [1 Cor 4:3]

References   [ + ]

1. The aborigines who had accompanied us from the WA Goldfields told us that people from their tribe used to walk all the distance to the Rock for religious ceremonies. It is also a matter of common knowledge that the site is frequented by occult groups.
2. In the latter case, unwise believers that prayed against many things in an aggressive manner that amounted to cursing. Jesus taught, “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” [Luke 6:28 cf. Rom 12:14].
3. Consider, “The next day he (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”” [John 1:29]; “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” [John 12:31].
4. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in it [the cross]” [Col 2:15]
5. The word “wrath” appears 212 times in the English Standard Version, 37 of these are in the New Testament. As this teaching will attempt to demonstrate, the omission of the topic of judgement in the contemporary Western church is a sign that our consciences are not at peace before God.
6. Roughly corresponding to objective and subjective.
7. The words of recently deceased Jerry Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority, have been repeated on TV and in print attributing the 9/11 disaster to the gays, pro –abortionists etc. drawing God’s judgement on America.
8. All “natural disasters” are in the most general sense a function of God’s wrath against the sin of the human race cf. Rom 8:20-21.
9. v12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” [Eph 2:12]
10. This is true because the worse thing that can happen to a human being is to exist in a state of sin separated from the glory of God [Rom 3:23].
11. See Rom 1:24-31.
12. By this Paul means that all humans possess an objective, but not necessarily conscious, knowledge of God’s goodness and that they violate this willfully, “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God” [Rom 1:21].
13. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” [Rom 2:14-15]
14. Conscience is not “the voice of God”, but can be “weak” [1 Cor 8:7], “doubting” [Rom 14:23], “seared” [1Tim 4:2]; “corrupt” [Tit 1:15], “evil” [Heb 10:22].
15. When Paul says, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” [1 Cor 15:56], he does not simply mean the Old Testament law, but all law apart from grace .
16. Simple questions like, “How do I look?” or “How did I sound?” betray such enslavement to the impression of others.
17. The rash of WA sportsmen involved in violence and drugs is a recent example, but few will actually let go of the cherished image of the hero.
18. This is the premise of Paul’s appeal to the idol – makers in Athens, “Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man”. [Acts 17:29].
19. Objectively, men and women know that the substitutes for the glory of God [Rom 1:18ff.] are inferior to the demands of their own conscience and needs. No idol can love perfectly, only the Father in Jesus does this [1 John 4:18].
20. What I am suggesting, as in terrorist expressions of Islam, is that at some level the terrorist knows that Allah is unjust, but that they seek to repress this knowledge and convince themselves of the rightness of their religion by through extremism. [On this topic I recommend A Journey From Gods to Christ by Daniel Shayesteh.]ISBN: 0975601709 Such self- righteousness is the final obstacle to grace, as Jesus said to the Pharisees, ““If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” [John 9:41].
21. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” [1 Thess 1:9].
22. By this, I am really referring to the gospel e.g. “by him [Jesus] everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” [Acts 13:39]; “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” [2 Cor 5:19].
23. Jesus moved through life surrounded by such a space, this was irresistibly attractive to the sinners of his time e.g. Matt 9:10; Matt 11:19; Luke 15:1.
24. ““The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”” [Luke 4:18–19].
25. e.g. “through the law comes knowledge of sin” [Rom 3:20]; “if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin.” [Rom 7:7]. with a sense that we have not been all that we could have been.
26. Hence the endless resorting to pleasure, possessions and position to remove the inner sense of emptiness.
27. Greek = telos
28. This includes the glimpses of truth in all religious and moral systems for all time.
29. I am here using “transgression” in the sense of the violation of a known law.
30. Another way of putting this is to say that inside of God there is no shame i.e. in the intra-trinitarian relationships into which Christ brings us e.g. “your life is hidden with Christ in God” Col 3:3.
31. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.” [Heb 7:27. cf. Heb 9:26; Heb 10:10]
32. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” [Rom 10:17]. Where a revelation of who God is in Christ occurs, salvation is a reality, or to put it most simply, revelation is reconciliation”.
33. he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love.” [ph 1:4]; “he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” [Col 1:22], “so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” [1 Thess 3:13] cf.Eph 1:4; Eph 5:27; Eph 5:23; Jude 1:24; Rev 14:5.
34. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”” [Rom 8:15].
35. Bernard of Clairvaux, On Loving God, 14.37
36. When John has a vision of the heavenly throne room and “around the throne was a rainbow” [Rev 4:3] we are reminded of the ancient covenant sign given to Noah of divine mercy [Gen 9:11-17]. The judgement seat of God is truly a “throne of grace” [Heb 4:16]
37. Note how Paul refuses to pass judgment on himself, “ But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.” [1 Cor 4:3]