Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Work of the Lord Jesus Christ - By John D. LaVier


 The Work of the Lord Jesus Christ
 By John D. LaVier

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the One referred to in Isaiah 57: 15 as "the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy." As a member of the Holy Trinity the Lord Jesus Christ was from etemity in the form of God. "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law." There was a twofold purpose in Christ's coming out of etemity into time and to the earth His hands had made. First of all, He came to be the Redeemer, the Saviour of the world, to put away man's sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Then, secondly, He came to set up His kingdom on earth; that kingdom which had been prophesied and long awaited, when Israel would be head among the nations and when the Lord Jesus as their Messiah would be on David's throne and ruling in righteousness. God had made a covenant with David assuring him that one of his seed would sit on his throne and that his kingdom would be unending. The Lord Jesus was that promised seed. He was "made of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Romans 1:3). The angel said to Mary, "And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" 

(Luke 1:31-33). He came to take the throne, but instead of the throne wicked men put Him to death on the cross. But death could not hold the Prince of life and on the third day He rose triumphant from the grave. In Peter's Pentecostal message he said that David prophesied Christ's resurrection, and that God had swom with an oath to raise up Christ to sit on his throne. Thus Christ was raised up twice in the midst of Israel. In His incarnation He was raised up from Mary's womb to sit on David's throne, and in His resurrection He was raised up from Joseph's tomb to sit on David's throne, and the day is surely coming when He will sit on David's throne and rule over Israel and the nations. 

The first question in the New Testament was asked by the wise men following Jesus' birth. They came to Jerusalem saying, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:2). At the triumphal entry the people shouted His praise and cried, "Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord" (John 12: 13). At His death on the cross the superscription was written over Him, "Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews" (John 19:19). John Baptist was Christ's forerunner and he came preaching "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2). When the twelve apostles were sent forth they were told to preach "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 10:7). There can be no kingdom without a king and the reason the kingdom was then at hand was because the King was at hand. When here in the flesh the Lord Jesus was here as King of the Jews and during that time His ministry was restricted to the Jewish people. He instructed the twelve not to go to the Gentiles but only to Israel (Matthew 10:5-6). He told the Syrophenician woman that He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24). In fact, He told her that it wasn't proper to take the children's bread (Israel) and cast it to dogs (Gentiles). Many Gentiles become upset when they hear that, but not this dear Greek woman. She told the Lord that what He said was the truth; that as a Gentile she had no claim on Israel's Messiah, that she would be content with some crumbs. 

In John 1: II we read, "He came unto His own." His own were the chosen, covenant people, the nation Israel. He was a man approved of God among them by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in their midst. Christ told them, "The works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me" (John 5 :36). In addition to the testimony of His works there was also the testimony other Scriptures. The Lord said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me" (John 5:39). The holy writer had them in mind when he wrote they had "tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come" (Hebrews 6:5). The miraculous powers shown by Christ were a foretaste of the coming kingdom. Surely they should have known Him, but how tragic the words that conclude John 1: II, "His own received him not." At times the multitude did throng His way and even shouted His praise, but mainly for the loaves and fishes or to see a miracle. The above verse from Hebrews indicates they were like many in the churches today, who are only "tasters" and not "drinkers." They have never knelt to drink deeply at the well of salvation, just a bit of a taste, a mere profession, and perhaps soon turn away. 

John Bunyan has written an article titled "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners .. or .. the Jerusalem Sinners Saved." In it he points out that the first ones to whom the gospel was preached after Christ's resurrection were the very ones who had rejected Him and demanded His death. On the day of Pentecost the Apostle Peter charged this Jewish audience with having crucified Jesus, the Christ. When they were convicted and cried out "What shall we do?" he told them to repent and to be baptized for the remission of sins. This is not God's message for today, but it was for that time. Thousands of those Jews, both then and later, responded to the message and were forgiven, but there was not national repentance. Israel had rejected Christ but He had not yet rejected them. On the cross He had prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23 :34). The Father heard and answered that prayer and Israel was forgiven and given another opportunity. In a later message to the leaders of the nation Peter stated, "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5 :30-31). Israel was being given one more chance to receive their King but turned a deaf ear. The purpose of the book of Acts is not to show the birth and growth of the church, but to show the decline and fall of Israel, and the reason they were set aside. The book of Acts is also referred to as covering the transition but there is really no transition in the early chapters. The kingdom which before had been preached is now offered but is violently refused. Israel's rejection of the renewed offer reaches its peak with the stoning of Stephen, for immediately thereafter we begin to see a movement away from that nation.

Israel had rejected the testimony of John Baptist, of the Lord Himself, of Peter and the twelve, and now there is one final appeal through Stephen. The answer to this entreaty was to stone Stephen to death and this marked the end of Israel's day. To Israel God had said, "All day long have 1 stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people." Israel's long day as the God-favored nation is at an end. A new apostle, Paul, comes to the fore and through him a new program is inaugurated, with Israel set aside and God's message of grace and reconciliation proclaimed to the Gentiles. And yet, God seems loath to turn away from His covenant people and during the remainder of the book of Acts, the transition period, the message still goes to the Jew first. It is not until the Lord's message through Paul has been proclaimed from Jerusalem to Rome that Israel is finally off the scene. There we have the solemn pronouncement of Acts 28:28, "Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it." Stephen had concluded his message by saying, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56). The Lord Jesus is later seen as seated, but up to this point the resurrected Christ is seen standing, waiting patiently and longingly to discern what Israel's response will be to the renewed offer. If there had been national repentance He would have returned to earth to bring in "the times of restitution of all things" (Acts 3:20-21). When the offer was refused the heavenly Father said to His Son, "Sit thou at my right hand, until 1 make thine enemies thy footstool" (Psalm 110:1). 

When God turned away from Israel He reached down and laid hold of the most bigoted Jew of all, Saul of Tarsus, who was the leader in the persecution of the believers. This was the Apostle Paul and he became Christ's emissary to bear the message of salvation to the Gentile world. The dispensation of grace was ushered in with Paul and now there is no longer any difference between Jew and Gentile. The Scripture says: "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:12-13). What a grand word is that word "whosoever." None are excluded, all are included. Any sinner, regardless of race or place, who calls upon the name of the Lord, will be saved. And every such sinner, at the moment of their salvation, is baptized by the Holy Spirit of God into the Body of Christ. This is the one true Church, composed of all the redeemed. In relation to this Church the Lord Jesus holds a new office. In Ephesians we read that God "hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all" (I :22-23). Also in Colossians 1: 18, "And He is the head of the body, the church." Christ is not the King of the church and is never given that title. He is the Head of the church. No pope, priest, prelate, preacher or potentate is the head. Man may be at the head of some human religious organization, but the Head of the true church is the crucified, risen, ascended Christ at God's right hand.

Dr. Bultema said that God put the key to the Scriptures right on the threshold. The very first verse in the Bible states: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Then as we study we learn that God has a purpose for the heavens and also a purpose for the earth. He also has a people for the heavens, and a people for the earth, through whom His purposes will be consummated. Israel is His people for the earth, while the church is His people for the heavens. Members of the church do have a blessed hope, a bright anticipation, and it is not an earthly hope, but heavenly. The hope of the church has to do with that realm "far above all." Dave Breese recently wrote in his paper: "Jews and Gentile proselyte believers (those saved under the kingdom program) will inherit a redeemed earth. By contrast, the Body of Christ will rule the universe in eternity." The apostle wrote: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2: 13). God's day of grace will close when Christ comes in the Rapture to call every member of His blood-washed church into His presence. In that great passage in Thessalonians we read of the Lord descending from heaven with a great assembling shout and every child of God being caught up to meet Him in the air and to be forever with the Lord. Our blessed hope is fully realized 111 those three words "with the Lord."

0, Blessed! 0 thrice blessed word!
To be forever with the Lord,
In heavenly beauty fair!
Up! .. Up! .. We long to hear the cry!
Up! .. Up! .. Our absent Lord draws nigh!
Yes, in the twinkling of an eye,
Caught up in the radiant air.

Following the Rapture of the church there will be a time of trouble on earth unparalleled in human history. This is the time of Jacob's trouble, the Great Tribulation. We have been noting the changing roles played by Christ and here again we see a change. No longer will He be stretching forth His hands and beseeching men to come and be reconciled. Then it will be quite different. "Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure" (Psalm 2:5). In that day men will pray to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Revelation 6: 16-17). How much better to come in time; to flee to Christ, the Eternal Rock of Ages, and find in Him a hiding place and shelter from the coming storm. And Christians should be redeeming the time, because the days are evil; and reaching out to the lost, snatching them out of the fire. 

The Great Tribulation will conclude with the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Writing to the suffering saints at Thessalonica the apostle assured them that the day of their vindication was coming, when their enemies would receive the due reward of their deeds. He wrote: "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Thessalonians 1:7-8). The Lord will be coming on this occasion not to suffer at the hands of His enemies, but to trample them beneath His feet; not to die in weakness on a tree of shame, but to sit on the throne of His glory. Great voices in heaven are heard to proclaim, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11: 15). He comes as the All Conquering Sovereign, accompanied by the armies of heaven. In Revelation 19 is pictured His majestic return, and in verse 16 we read: "And he hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." When Britain's Queen Victoria was crowned, she said, in expressing the desire to be present on that future occasion, "I should so love to lay my crown at His feet." She knew that when the Lord Jesus came it would be as a King - the King of David's Royal House and Dynasty. She knew the government would be on His shoulders and that she would acknowledge His authority. One of these days all the kings and rulers of earth shall cast their crowns before Him. It will be the Coronation Day of Christ. The whole earth will tremble at the shouting and the tumult. It will be the grandest day in human history and may God hasten it. Amen!

Recovery Of Truth - O'Hair - YouTube

 How God Saves Men
Believing Christ DIED, that’s HISTORY.
Believing Christ DIED for YOU SINS and Rose again that’s SALVATION.
ead Acts 16L31 Romans 1:16, and 1. Corinthians 15:1-4

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