Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 3 Study # 9
Thesis: God builds up the souls of those who walk with Him by means of periodic manifestations of the truthfulness of His Word.
Introduction: As we have considered Luke's record of Simeon's announcement in the Temple on the day Jesus was presented to the Lord, we have seen that God is particularly interested in "piling on" the evidence that Jesus is His "Christ". [It has been a major issue in all that Luke has said to this point in his record that Jesus is the "Lord's Christ".] In our last two studies of this record we have seen that this "piling on" is particularly significant in the light of the fact that it is clearly Luke's intent that Theophilus see how critical it is that the Holy Spirit be involved in the issues of this identification. [When Peter identified Jesus as "the Christ" after an extended time of witnessing His teaching and actions, Jesus pointedly said that Peter had not drawn that conclusion as a result of his mental facilities, but, rather, as a result of the Father's illumination of his heart/mind complex.] This raises the question of why God goes through all of the trouble of "piling on" evidence if men are only convinced by the ministry of the Spirit to them. The answer is that, even for the Holy Spirit, the condition of man's bondage to Sin is no small matter and it is His "method" to "pile on evidence" to the point of bringing great clarity into the darkness. [The need for this is obvious from the example of Mary's own bondage to Sin as revealed by the rather significant failure of Mark 3 after having all the evidence in the world that her Son was the Lord's Christ.] In other words, even the Holy Spirit does not "convince" in a vacuum of mental activity. Indeed, He is revealed to work, in bringing men to enlightenment, according to the principle of "highlighting the content of the Word" and then "buttressing that Word with confirming experiences".
This morning we are going to look into Luke's record of Simeon's attitude in order to see this principle of the divine process. The "principle" is our thesis. It is my contention that Luke wanted Theophilus (and us) to understand how God works to meet the needs of the souls of His people by means of experiences that are rooted in the revelation of His Word.
July 3, 2005
- I. The Issue of Our Text.
- A. This issue is identified by several particulars...
- 1. Simeon's obvious feeling that this "experience" was the capstone of his life (now he is ready to die).
- 2. Simeon's clearly stated foundation for his extraordinary satisfaction (his eyes have seen what the Word of God had said).
- a. This signifies the reality that the declarations of the Word of God are not "enough" [The "God said it; I believe it; and that settles it" cliche is really not true -- as most cliches prove to be (lies in disguise).]
- b. This also signals the reality that faith in the declarations of the Word of God are, likewise, not "enough".
- c. This also signals the reality that it is only God's acting in confirmation of the legitimacy of a person's faith in His words that is "enough".
- 3. Simeon's taking of Jesus into his arms before his outburst of praise makes even his declaration of his foundation (my eyes have seen) a bit suspect...there is more to it than that.
- a. The word "took" is a word that is typically used for an intensified embracing -- as though a person could, by embracing, pull someone/thing into his very own soul.
- b. The word "arms" is a word that is extremely rare in the records of that day and signals an intensification of the word "embrace". [It is used in the Septuagint at the point of Solomon's wisdom in deciding the mother of a baby; and it is used in the Septuagint to refer to the way a man embraces a woman when they are engaged in sex.]
- c. The point is this: Simeon was not satisfied with "seeing"; he wanted to pull this experience of God's action in confirmation of His words deeply into his own soul.
- B. This issue boils down to one thing: God's provision of an experience of the integrity of His words that fully satisfies the soul of His disciple.
- II. The Reasons for God's Provision of This Experience.
- A. The condition of the souls of His people is radically important to God.
- 1. In one sense, the condition of people's souls is the rationale for the existence of the words of God.
- 2. In this text, God (the Spirit) has been actively addressing Simeon's soul by giving him special privileges that few others got.
- B. The condition of Simeon's soul is the focus of this context.
- 1. That he says he can "die in peace" signifies that he has not been "at peace".
- 2. The "grasping" of his arms, and the "greediness" of his eyes, signify that he has not been "at peace".
- C. The condition of Simeon's soul is the key to our understanding of God in this text.
- 1. We were pointedly told by Luke that Simeon was both "just" and "devout" and that he was "in the temple".
- 2. We know from John 2:12-22 and Luke 19:45-48 that this "temple" where this "just" and "devout" man was inclined to go was an extremely perverse example of "justice" and "devotion".
- 3. We cannot imagine that Simeon's soul was not threatened with suffocation by his longing for justice and true devotion in the midst of that setting.
- 4. It was in the very place of "threatened suffocation" that God provided powerful proof of the integrity of His Word -- so powerful that the recipient of that proof was finally fully satisfied.
- a. Note that the fulness of satisfaction was NOT on the basis of the actual experience of the final salvation.
- b. The fulness of satisfaction was NOT on the basis of a serene faith in the truth of God's words.
- c. The fulness of satisfaction WAS the result of God's active provision of an experience of His integrity that was handled, embraced, and seen.
- III. Luke's Message to Theophilus.
- A. Every word Luke chose to express his theology to Theophilus is significant for the development of Theophilus' own soul.
- B. His message to Theophilus is that God is fully committed to providing those of His disciples who depend upon Him with experiences that will build their souls toward final peace.