Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 5 Study # 1
Thesis: Our legitimate participation in the on-going Plan is both important and effective.
Introduction: Last week we tried to make the point that we do not determine what is true by what we see, how we feel, or what we want. Instead, we determine what is true by listening to the God of verbal revelation Who has spoken in history in and by the written Word of God. It was a major point in the effort of last week to show how the arrest of John by Herod was both an action of evil and an effective instrument of God in the advancement of His Plan. The conclusion that I attempted to draw was that there is no "event" in history that is not used by God in the advancement of His Plan, not even one. It is the responsibility of the people of God to buy into that reality by faith -- not in what they "see", how they "feel", or what they "want" -- but in the declaration of God. The wisdom of God is so profound that there is not even one adversarial action that the evil one can take that does not serve God's good goals. There is only one downside to this entire scenario: that God forwards His Plan by every event of history does not mean that you or I will automatically be included in the "goodness" of the plan. There is a Hell as well as a Heaven; and there is real Loss even in the Judgment of the Great Shepherd's sheep. This is where "faith" comes into play: when I "trust", I participate in the "goodness"; when I do not "trust", I participate in the "disaster" of His rejection.
Thus, this morning, I am going to attempt to address this reality of the individual's gain or loss by looking into Luke's introduction of the works of Jesus. As we buy into Luke's picture of Jesus, we gain. If we refuse the reality of Luke's picture, we lose.
So, what is the picture Luke drew for us as he penned his words of Jesus?
May 7, 2006
- I. It is a Picture of Transition.
- A. He deliberately "sets the stage" in direct respect to the conclusion of John's activities in the Master Plan.
- 1. He told us that Herod put John in prison, effectively cutting off his "ministry" of proclamation/baptism.
- 2. In our present text we are told that "all the people had been baptized".
- a. The phrase "all the people" needs clarification.
- 1) It was not "all the people" in Judea and Galilee.
- 2) The phrase is tied to Luke 1:17.
- a) The original prophetic picture of John was that it would be his task "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord".
- b) This prophetic scenario did not include anyone who was going to reject his doctrine that men are essentially snakes and will be forgiven/regenerated by the Great God of Grace as soon as, but not until, they come before Him in the desire to have His grace applied to their snakiness.
- 3) The "people" who were "all" baptized were the individuals in the nation whose hearts were transformed by the power of the words of the Spirit Who had filled John from the time he was conceived.
- b. That God's Plan for a prepared people had reached the point of fulfillment meant that "all the people had been baptized".
- 1) God's Plan included the preparatory time and effort of John.
- 2) God's Plan also, however, was set to "move on" to the next stage of the Plan.
- 3. So, the stage is set for the appearance of the predicted Mighty One to come.
- B. He also deliberately returned to his favorite "it came about" phrase.
- 1. Luke is recording an on-going record of history as it flows from one divine accomplishment to the next.
- a. Men simply cannot think apart from "linear progression".
- 1) We experience many things "simultaneously", but we only consider them "progressively".
- 2) We sometimes do many things "simultaneously", but we pursue the most important of them "progressively".
- b. Even if God is in an "eternal Now" kind of reality, He never speaks to men as though they will ever get to that reality.
- 1) The "eternal Now" theological verbiage is an attempt to exalt God over time, but, in terms of man's reality, it turns into "mumbo-jumbo".
- 2) There is no indication from Scripture that man's creatureliness will ever get beyond "linear progression".
- c. The "Point": as human beings we have a desperate need to believe that each moment's "events" are a necessary and effective aspect of God's good dominion over us.
- 2. "It came about" means that God is both in control and working linearly to bring us to Glory.
- II. It is a Picture of the Completion of the Prepared Community of Faith.
- A. John came on the scene as a "Preparer".
- 1. The issue of "preparation" is huge.
- a. Behind all the words is a theology that boggles our minds.
- b. For John to come on the scene offering redemption to snakes, God had to have had some "Glorious" reason for redeeming snakes.
- 1) A "Glorious" reason means that there is something essential to the very essence of God to sponsor His action.
- 2) A "Glorious" reason means that we need some comprehension of what it is that "makes God tick".
- 2. The issue of "preparation" signals a "theological prelude".
- a. There is something about the Coming One that requires a period of preparation.
- 1) In what way was the creation "unprepared"?
- 2) What was it that the creation did not "understand"?
- b. The Coming One was to be One Who both baptizes with the Holy Spirit and baptizes with fire.
- 1) This means that He was going to make it possible for snakes to actually become something else so as to be qualified to receive the Holy Spirit of God.
- 2) This means that He was also going to eternally separate those who remain snakes from those who are transformed by the message of John.
- c. This indicates that the "point" of "unpreparedness" was the creation's lack of understanding of why and how God forgives.
- 1) The "how" question is the easier one: forgiveness is rooted in the satisfaction of Justice by a sufficiently "just" sacrifice.
- 2) The "why" question is more difficult: what is it in God that drives either creation or redemption?
- a) Whatever it is, it is "essential glory" -- i.e., it makes up the essence of Who God is.
- b) And, as essential glory, it is never going to go away -- i.e., we are never going to be "beyond it".
- c) The implications are huge: God has always been a Creator and He will never cease to be one.
- i. He will not always be a "Redeemer" because that which is essential in God that drove His intent to turn snakes into Children does not require "redemption".
- ii. It is only the presence of failure that drives the necessity of redemption, and failure is not inescapable by virtue of the actual history that transpired and is recorded by Luke.
- iii. But, there is no such escape from "Creating": that God created in the first place signals something in His essence that demands creating. If He didn't "have" to create, Calvary would not have been necessary and Calvary was not going to be allowed for an "unnecessary" reality.
- d) This means that Paul's comment on the surpassing glory of the future makes our present experience shrivel into an absolute "no comparison" reality.
- B. John is going off the scene as having effectively accomplished his task.
- 1. It is the manner of his departure that is problematical.
- a. Why could not God have used John as His instrument for preparation for the great good, and then gently retired him to his palace by the sea?
- b. What is it about the Plan of God that protects a man from the evil until the job is done and then permits the evil to triumph?
- 2. But, it is precisely the manner of his departure that is the point.
- a. The most effective ploy of the evil one is his use of the appearance of victory to argue that God is "mean".
- b. The most effective destruction of that ploy is God's ultimate demonstration of the lie that evil has triumphed.
- 1) That cannot be done without permitting the appearance of an evil victory.
- 2) That cannot be done without the human willingness to await the final revelation of the results.
- a) The final revelation does not always come in man's lifetime.
- b) But there are enough illustrations in a man's experience to enable the faith to await the final revelation.
- i. Joseph first uttered the words: You meant it for evil but God meant it for good.
- ii. The crucifixion of the Mighty One is the ultimate illustration in which the greatest crime is turned into the greatest divine victory.
- iii. On the heels of that revelation, we await the revelation of the victorious reality of John's death in the "it came about" march of God's great Plan through creation's history.
- III. The Point for Us.
- A. We are participants in the on-going outworking of the Plan of the Great God of Grace.
- B. But, our participation is either that of those who are moving toward disaster or of those who are moving toward indescribable blessedness.
- C. The crucial determinative factor is one: whether we "believe" in the God of Glory.