Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 6: New Truths of the Kingdom Aristocracy
Chapter 1: The Heavenly Origin of the Church
Lesson 161 – Final Countdown (cont’d)
04 Jan 2001
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
If you’ll turn in your Bibles to Matthew 4 we’re going to try to finish up this event that we’ve been on, the session of Christ and I’ll start where we left off last time when we were talking about the doctrine of judgment/salvation. We’ve gone through this a number of times; again, why do we do these five points? Because the idea of justification and the idea of salvation are revealed chiefly in key historic events, those two being the flood and the Exodus.
When you look at those events you see these characteristics again and again, but they come to fruition, they come to fulfillment in this period of history prior to the return of Christ. So if this is the First Advent of Christ and this is the Second Advent of Christ, we’re in between and it’s in between this era that we have the countdown to the final judgment/salvation. History is moving toward that point.
We have the first characteristic; we said God’s always gracious before He judges. There’s always a period of grace involved. There was in Egypt, there was in the flood and so far there’s been nearly 2,000 years of grace prior to Christ’s return. Then we said there’s a perfect discrimination because God in the flood discriminated completely and surgically between those who believe and those who disbelieved. He did the same thing in the Exodus, there were houses that had blood on them and there were houses that did not have blood on them, and that was the partition, that was the discrimination. It was precise, it wasn’t statistically smeared.
The third characteristic of God’s way, He always has one way of judgment, it’s exclusivistic and it’s that exclusivism that always angers and irritates the non-Christian. But the Bible says “I am the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father but by Me.” “There’s no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved.” So there’s one way and one way only, and that makes sense if we recognize what the cross is all about, and the character of God.
Then we said that man and nature are always involved in God’s judgments, it’s not just man, it’s man and nature. The reason for that is the design of creation. What was man in the original Garden of Eden context? He was the lord of creation, and because he was the lord of creation he was to have dominion over nature. As goes man, so goes nature.
But as history goes on we recognize that built into nature is not just molecules and atoms, but there are also spiritual parts to nature. Those spiritual parts to nature are angels. So now we come not to the Flood, not to the Exodus, but we come to this period of time prior to the return of Christ and man and nature once again become involved but this time the part of nature that gets involved is the angelic realm.
We come now to finish up how these angelic beings are involved in the age in which we live, the Church Age. We said that what goes on is that in the Church Age the Lord Jesus Christ as a member of the human race started out on the scale of man. Man was created lower than the angels so we have angels here and we have God’s throne up here.
But what happens is when Jesus Christ completed the salvation package, when He said it was finished and He was raised from the dead and He ascended to Heaven, He went above the angels. So now we have a situation we’ve never had in history before where a member of the human race is higher than the most powerful angels. The Lord Jesus Christ outranks them, and this was a momentous thing that happened in history.
The reason we don’t think much about it is because it was in the unseen realm, there was not something out in the open that can be observed with cameras and because of that, because it’s invisible to us on earth, we make light of this and don’t give it proper emphasis. That’s why we’ve gone over this and over this and over this so we won’t forget when we get into …
We’re going to move on to the next step after we get through a little divergence, the next step is going to be Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. And that’s emphasized a lot in church history. The problem is that that is not properly interpreted if you don’t load it at the front end with the session of Christ at the Father’s right hand.
What we want to do by going to Matthew 4 is we want to study a little bit more about a topic that we introduced last time which was that the Lord Jesus Christ at the Father’s right hand sits on the throne and His credentials cannot be challenged by Satan, who is always busy trying to challenge the legal basis of God’s workings. We see that in the book of Job, we see that in Isaiah 14, we see that in Ezekiel 28, we see that in the way He moved through the church, in the Book of Chronicles in the Old Testament, it depicts how Satan misled David into doing the census and that sort of thing.
So Satan’s always got his fingers in the system trying to basically, bottom line is challenge God’s right to be God. One way he has of doing that is to say that God is being unfair to him, i.e., to Satan, the argument looks like this: we have one-third of the angelic beings, Satan plus all the demons, so we have this group who know that they are going to be judged by God. So what they’re trying to do, as far as we can determine from Scripture, is trying to argue their case with God that God cannot judge them without judging man, because man is fallen too.
This is very important to sort out because of the gospel and the way the gospel is designed. However God redeems man, with this kind of an objection from other creatures He’s got to do it such that however the salvation package works out it doesn’t compromise His righteousness and His justice because if it does, then these creatures have an appeal, a basis of appeal to that. This is why in the Book of Job, remember Satan came to God and he said look, Job worships You but he worships You because You give him special privileges; take away the special privileges and watch the creature.
In other words, no creature, God, is going to really worship You of his own free will, all the creatures that worship you have been coddled, have been protected, are not going to bite the hand that feeds them, etc. This is the argument, that there’s no genuine worship of God among the creatures that’s worthy of the name. So it’s a very serious accusation and it goes directly to God Himself, bypassing man completely. This is an issue between God and His creation.
When the Lord Jesus Christ, prior to the session, when He was down here incarnate, during this time period the issue was Satan has superior rank; the issue now is will Jesus Christ, walking around on this planet, and we studied His birth, His life, His death, and His resurrection, but we want to look at an aspect of that because we covered a lot of heavy stuff, hypostatic union, kenosis, impeccability, and I’m sure you thought why do I have to know that, what is all that about, that’s pretty heavy advanced doctrine. It’s because those doctrines protect the integrity of the throne room. Now we’re going to see why.
In Matthew 4 when Satan confronted the Lord Jesus, the Lord Jesus Christ was a threat to Satan because the Lord Jesus Christ was going to get down underneath, where man was, and prove that a man could perfectly obey God. Remember Jesus Christ was God and He was man.
In Matthew 4 you have recorded the conflicts. Satan wanted to get Him to sin, and he had to put the pressure on because He knew that Jesus was sinless. He doesn’t have to put that kind of pressure on us because he already knows we’re fallen, but the Lord Jesus Christ, because of His unique birth, virgin born, Jesus Christ came into this world in bodies like ours but without sharing the position of being a sinner in Adam. Therefore He stood out like a sore thumb and Satan knew exactly who Jesus Christ was, so he begins to operate on Jesus’ humanity, because remember, Jesus Christ has deity and He has humanity. Satan can’t argue with His deity but he can argue with His humanity so he attacks the humanity and that’s what he is doing here in Matthew 4.
Verse 3, “And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ ” And Matthew 4:2 has already prepared us for verse 3 because in verse 2 you have the notation about Jesus being very hungry; you have forty days of fasting. [“And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.”] So in verse 3 can anyone see the maneuver that’s being pulled here? It’s not just a simple temptation.
Look carefully at verse 3 and think about what’s going on here. This is a brilliant attempt to destroy the salvation package before it can even get assembled. It says, “ ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ ” The condition of that sentence, is that condition true or false? It’s true. So the first part of that sentence is okay. But Satan always takes truth and he maneuvers it, he has an agenda distorting it and deceiving it.
How does the second result clause, how does the second clause in verse 3 follow logically from the first clause in verse 3? What’s the appeal? “If you be the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.” Now is He the Son of God? Yes He is. But why is it wrong to conclude that if He is the Son of God then why shouldn’t He make stones into bread? What would have happened if Jesus had made stones into bread there? Why is it important that He not makes stones into bread?
Think about that for a minute. It was important that the Lord Jesus Christ not turn the stones into bread because if He did then He was exercising His deity against a satanic temptation. The temptation came to His humanity and if He turned the stones into bread it was His deity that was answering the temptation.
But the Lord Jesus Christ stood His ground because His mission, and this will clear up in a minute here, His mission is that He executed the plan of God for His life in His humanity, and He didn’t compromise His humanity by coming in, Oh I’m God after all so I can take the pressure off and I’ll rely on some of my divine attributes. He didn’t do that. Satan tried to get Him to do that because once He did that, what would that do to the perfect Lamb of God sacrificially on the Cross?
It would disqualify Him, because now we don’t have the Messiah doing what Adam should have done in the first place, namely a member of the human race with the creation ordinance to obey God and to become the lord of the creation under God. So the creature was supposed to obey the Creator. If Satan could maneuver the Lord Jesus Christ to compromise His humanity, switch over to His deity, make the stones into bread, then it wasn’t obedience for the creature. So this is a very clever maneuver.
Notice something else, Matthew 4:5–6, “Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he led Him up to the pinnacle of the temple,  and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God throw Yourself down.’ ” Now he even quotes Scripture, because the Lord Jesus Christ answered him in verse 4 with Scripture.
Now Satan raises the heat some more, now he can quote Scripture, and he quotes it very well, by the way. This is a legitimate text. “‘He will give His angels charge concerning You; and on their hands they will bear You up, lest you strike Your foot against a stone.’ ” So he’s saying go ahead.
But the point here again is was it the will of God for the Lord Jesus Christ to deliberately and promiscuously endanger His life, endanger His humanity, just on a fling. That was not the will of God—that would have been disobedience to the mission. But it was a temptation because in verse 6 the first clause again is “If you’re the Son of God” why can’t you do this? You can imagine Jesus is tired, He’s hungry—these were real temptations to Him.
The Bible records that, somewhere He must have shared this with the disciples and the disciples wrote it down and it got into our Bibles. It’s a report of a genuine temptation the Lord Jesus Christ experienced. We can be glad He did this, by the way, because remember the passage in Hebrews, what does it say about our high priest? “Who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” why? “Because He was in all points tempted as we are.”
Here’s part of it. So the Lord Jesus Christ is not like Allah who has never come to earth incarnate, no claim in the Koran of coming to the earth. Confucius and Buddha aren’t gods so they didn’t come, they were on earth already. This is the only place in the world, in the history of the world, where God becomes man, walks around, is tempted, and understands what temptation is.
One other thing, in Matthew 4:8–9 there’s a third temptation that we want to watch carefully because it shows, I think more clearly the problem of status. “Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory,  and he said to Him, ‘All these thing will I give You if You fall down and worship me.’ ” Why would the Lord Jesus Christ be interested in all the kingdoms of the world? Why was this first clause important? What was the role of Messiah? What’s the ultimate destiny of Messiah? To rule all the kingdoms of the world, the Kingdom of God.
Here Satan takes advantage of a moral impulse to rule and he deflects it. So he takes something good, as he’s already done twice, he takes something good, something that’s Scriptural, and then he tacks it on to disobedience. Clever! Notice the implication in verse 9 that “I give You” this. Satan can’t give what he doesn’t have to give. So, verse 9 is one of the powerful references that at this point in time, Satan had total control over the world, and all political kingdoms in it.
To reinforce that, if you notice in the notes on page 20 I quote 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2; if you want further references the concept carries over. Paul talks about Satan as the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air.
Now the problem comes, if that’s so, Satan in verse 9 has control of the kingdoms of the world, and in the New Testament after Christ goes to the throne because 2 Corinthians and Ephesians are written after this has happened, so chronologically this is afterwards, why can Satan still be called the god of this world and the prince of the power of the air when in fact the Lord Jesus Christ sits as a raised successful human being at the Father’s right hand?
That’s the setup for the Church Age and that’s the background for Pentecost, that’s the background for the unique structure of the church and its mission, and what it’s all about. That’s why we want to “think on these things” and wrestle with these things to get a grasp of what’s going on.
Jesus Christ, starting at this point, whether it’s AD 30 or 33, whatever, at this point in time we have a genuine member of the human race seated at the Father’s right hand, above the angels. And yet it’s said that one angel in particular, Satan, is the god of this world, that he’s the prince of the power of the air, that he rules, and yet Jesus Christ has outranked him, and He’s up here. So how can Satan be the god of this world and the Lord Jesus Christ, having all power and authority delivered into His hands?
We’re going to look at a passage in the Old Testament for an analogy of this. Turn to 2 Samuel 22, this is David … in 2 Samuel 22. This is also Psalm 18, this is the time when David spoke the words of the Psalm “in the day the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” We reviewed this a few weeks ago when we said the Ark of the covenant came after David was installed as king, etc., and that this was a final conclusion to David’s life. If we draw an analogue line down here, David’s life, and we make the event correspond to Jesus and history, 2 Samuel corresponds to when the Lord Jesus Christ sits on David’s throne and is victorious.
We want to go backwards in David’s life. What happened before this, when it says in 2 Samuel 22, “the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” What preceded that verse? What was David’s personal history? Saul was king and he was persecuting David. We go all the way back, in 1 Samuel 16, what happened then? Back here David was anointed. Was he a young man, middle aged man or old man? He was a young man. So from this point of the anointing, 1 Samuel 16, all the way down to 2 Samuel 22, we have an interim period. In 1 Samuel 16 David was anointed; the word anointing is Messiah, he was called of God and anointed at that point. Was he surely to be king over Israel? Absolutely; absolutely! Was he king, in effect, over Israel? No he wasn’t. Why? Because there was another king over Israel. Who was the other king? Saul, and Saul wasn’t going to give up the throne voluntarily for David.
So we have the paradox that we have two kings simultaneously existing. We have Saul, all the way down to here. We have David all the way down to here. Saul is on the throne; David is not on the throne. At this point Saul goes away, David replaces him.
Now we have an analogue that helps us understand a little bit about the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ rises from the dead, passes through the realm of the angels and sits at the Father’s right hand. This qualifies Him to fulfill any prophecy going. But the Lord Jesus Christ isn’t actually fulfilling all that.
That’s not David’s throne, and there’s some progressive dispensationalists today who think that Jesus Christ is fulfilling David’s throne because He’s at the Father’s right hand. It’s not David’s throne, it’s the Father’s throne, two different thrones, two different times, two different circumstances. David was anointed, functioned as the king to come, and then finally took his throne here, after he waited in faith for Saul to go away. He trusted the Lord for Saul.
We said what is true in Psalm 2; what is true in Daniel 7; what is true in Psalm 110? We found and we discovered that the Father said to the Son, “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.” What was David doing? He was waiting until God turned his enemies into his footstool. Same analogy. During this time many people came out to David, all during 2 Samuel, there is a whole story, we won’t go into the details but if you read David’s life, particularly the area of 2 Samuel, you’ll see one by one people are attracted to David out of Saul’s kingdom. Who was the most prominent person in Saul’s kingdom that came to David? It was Jonathan, the crown prince. That’s interesting because the crown prince should have been king next in the Saulite line.
So when you have a guy like Jonathan defecting from his father’s kingdom, coming over to David’s side, ending his career because now the Saulite house, the dynasty to which Jonathan belongs, they’re out of a job. But he comes to this because he’s convinced that God is with David, not with his dad. Who else comes over? “Everyone that was in distress, … in debt, disconnected, … gathered themselves unto him and he became captain over them.” All during this time there are defections that are happening.
Now isn’t it interesting that at no point in this did David build an army and directly confront Saul. Saul was having his problems with the Philistines and matters of state. David trusted the Lord to work it out. But there never was a direct conflict between Saul and David in the sense of … you know, David and Goliath and the battlefield, going at it against each other.
Isn’t it interesting that the Lord Jesus Christ seems to do the same thing, that between the time of His session and the time when He returns to earth to claim His Kingdom, to claim the Davidic throne, to cast out the angels, because remember the Millennial Kingdom starts because the angels are cast into prison, the evil angels and between these two events, what is Jesus doing right now? He’s executing an indirect strategy.
In other words, He’s not directly confronting Satan as He does in the Tribulation, for example, in the Second Return. There’s a finesse to this; there’s a maneuver going on in history. We want to look at that, and to help you I’ve made a table on page 21. We want to look at this.
I’ve got two tables, table #2 and table #3, and we want to these two topics because they give us renewed respect for why the four Gospels are written the way they are and why God has laid out certain procedures in the Christian life for us to follow. We get in trouble when we don’t follow those procedures.
On table 2 I cite two doctrines that we went over when we were going through the Lord Jesus Christ’s life, the hypostatic union and the doctrine of kenosis. Look at the table, second column, under hypostatic union and you’ll see the summary: “Undiminished deity and true humanity united forever in one person without confusion.” Below that you’ll see the doctrine of kenosis, just to review: “As God-man, Jesus Christ gave up the independent use of His divine attributes and accepted a 100% creature (dependent) existence during His mortal life.”
Name of the Doctrine
Content of the Doctrine
Satan’s Possible Appeal Refuted
Undiminished deity and true humanity united forever in one person without confusion
True humanity is what historically and perfectly obeyed the will of God; Creator/ creature distinction not violated at any time
As God-man, Jesus Christ gave up the independent use of His divine attributes and accepted a 100% creature (dependent) existence during his mortal life
Jesus’ obedience was by faith in the same manner as any other member of the human race; He never used His divine power to avoid trials and temptations (as Satan indeed tried to get Him to do)
If there was to be a miracle it would have to be the Father OK’d it. He never used His deity independently. If the Father said it’s OK, I want You to show Your deity, Jesus could show His deity. That’s the doctrine of true kenosis.
Kenosis doesn’t say He never used His deity. Kenosis says that when He did use His deity, the initiative came from the Father, not from the Son. So what does the hypostatic union do for us in this conflict where Satan is constantly conducting a legal campaign about the way God goes about His business?
Right column, “Satan’s Possible Appeal is Refuted.” In other words, Satan can appeal—there shouldn’t be any man on the throne of God; that belongs to me, Isaiah 14, I want to be like the Most High, I should occupy that throne, not some wimpy guy from the planet earth, one of those men creatures, not those creatures that were made less than me. You have no right to do that. You can’t out rank me, you’re a human. I’m an angel, Psalm 8.
The answer is in that box in the right column, first row. “True humanity is what historically and perfectly obeyed the will of God; the Creator/creature distinction not violated at any time.” That’s why in the Gospels the Lord Jesus Christ kept in His humanity and the idea was that He never utilized His deity to execute the plan of God.
That means, therefore that someone, a member of the human race, created for the first time in history absolute righteousness, the first time it’s ever been done. Adam muffed it, Eve muffed it, and every person since then has muffed it. But there was one time when one Member of the human race did it and met these standards of God so that He could walk into God’s holy presence in perfect obedience. That’s the importance of the hypostatic union.
You have to have the hypostatic union in order to protect the quality of obedience, the quality of that righteousness. It doesn’t do any good for God to utilize His own attribute with His own attribute. This is a righteousness that is born of a person, a member of the human race who obeyed God’s will perfectly.
Now Satan can’t execute his appeal because now, sitting on the throne is a Creature who perfectly obeyed and Satan didn’t. So morally and ethically Jesus is superior and He outranks him and Satan can’t do anything about it because the installation has already occurred. He can gripe about it, he can complain about it, he can try to deceive us into believing it’s not true, he can create heresies in church history that portray Jesus as not part of the hypostatic union so he can twist people’s minds so they get confused and think Satan does have an “in” with his appeal. But if we know the true doctrine from the Scriptures we know that Satan has no appeal. He can’t do a thing about it; a member of the human race is at the Father’s right hand. A member of the human race did what Satan couldn’t do. A member of the human race perfectly obeyed the Father. That’s number one.
Number two in that box on table 2 has to do with something that is very important for us and the rest of the Church Age because the second row deals with kenosis and it says that Jesus utilized procedures that we in the Church Age utilize. In other words, He was like a test pilot, He went out, He utilized the faith-rest procedure, filling of the Holy Spirit procedure, He utilized all of them. The only procedure that we use that He doesn’t is confession of our sin. But all the things that the New Testament tells us, walk by faith, all the rest of it, that’s all procedures that He used. When we talk about the life of Christ, that’s what we’re talking about.
So the point of kenosis is that the Lord Jesus Christ proved out the procedures given in the New Testament for every believer. When we utilize the faith-rest approach, when we utilize the filling of the Holy Spirit, when we walk by faith we are duplicating what Jesus did in His humanity. He didn’t have any special tools; He didn’t have special tools that outrank us.
So when we come along and walk along in history, we can’t say … here we are and we face some trial, some mess down here, and we listen to the New Testament and the New Testament says here are some promises to trust, here’s the way I want you to handle the mess. We can’t look up at the Lord Jesus Christ at the Father’s right hand and say, “Well, He had something on His little plate that I don’t have on mine.” You can’t do that. The Lord Jesus Christ comes right back and says did you ever hear of the doctrine of kenosis, what does it say in Philippians 2? I humbled Myself, I became obedient as a man; now don’t give me this stuff that I had an easier time than you do.
Here we have the other answer to Satan. Not only was it a Creature that was perfectly obeying, but Jesus’ obedience was by faith in the same manner as any other member of the human race. He never utilized His divine power to avoid trials and temptations, as Satan indeed tried to get Him to do. So He kept His creature integrity and He at the same time proved out that God provides for all of our needs. The Lord Jesus Christ in His life proved that God gives the creature sufficient operating assets to handle anything that can come up in life, because Jesus did it.
So now Satan has no … He can’t touch the Lord Jesus Christ at the Father’s right hand. He may try to appeal that, and I believe one way he tries to appeal it isn’t directed to God necessarily as it is to us, by screwing up our idea of who Jesus is and who we are, by making it seem that the Lord Jesus Christ obviously lived a righteous life and we can’t, we’ve got special needs. We don’t have any special needs that the Lord Jesus Christ didn’t have. The needs are the same.
You have to be careful of this because the woods are full of people who always have an excuse, it’s part of the sin nature, please excuse me for my thing. God says, “Well, I’m sorry; you’re responsible. I’ve provided in toto for all of your needs.”
Let’s move on to the next part of this dilemma. If, down here in this process of time, we’re seeing a historical progress going on, and it’s analogous to David and Saul, what is going on here? What did we say was happening from the time that David was anointed to the time he attained the throne?
People were coming to him; they were defecting from Saul and coming to David, one by one. What is happening here? Here’s Satan’s kingdom, here’s the kingdom of Christ. People are defecting, defecting, defecting, defecting; do you think he likes that? Think he likes to see the gospel go on winning people to Christ? Do you suppose Satan tolerates this? He doesn’t tolerate it.
If he could stop this tonight he would stop it tonight. God has put a door open to the church that no man can close. That’s proof that though Satan is the god of this world, though he has control of this kingdom, he can’t stop his kingdom from leaking, because God, through the Lord Jesus Christ … remember what Jesus Christ said to the church in Revelation? I’ve set an open door and no man is going to shut it. No creature in history is going to shut this door, I’ve opened it; the keys of death and hell I have. This is what’s going on.
We have the strategic victory that has already been won up here. The strategic victory means that the new human race has a head, a new Adam. That’s why Paul talks about the Second Adam, the Last Adam, that isn’t just Bible words, that’s a title and it means there literally is a new species of the human race.
What’s the definition of a species? A species is within which [can’t understand words] reproduce. The new human race is a different species than the old human race in that it is born again; it is the Holy Spirit that generates this new species. The old species can’t breed the new species. So we have a new species being created, the Lord Jesus Christ is the member of this, He is in resurrected body, He’s finished His complete thing.
He proved perfect obedience, His mortal body was changed to an immortal body at the point of the resurrection, He is now at the Father’s right hand, He can’t be removed. Satan can’t appeal it—it’s already proved that humanity has won the battle. The human race has won.
That’s the strategic victory, He holds the high ground. That’s always the issue in military conflict—who holds the high ground? That’s why the Russians and the Americans, why we had the fight over the satellites, because who owns the high ground, who controls the high ground?
In the Civil War it was the same thing, the Battle of Gettysburg was the same thing. All these battles, check it out, what were the generals trying to do? They were trying to maneuver the armies to control the high ground.
If you control the high ground you control everything else. Who controls the high ground now? Angels or human beings? Human beings—the human race controls the high ground. That’s the strategic advance that happened in AD 30/33.
After that we have tactical victories that happen in history. These are all tactics. One tactic is evangelism. Every time someone trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ it’s a tactical victory because now Satan has a casualty. According to Ephesians 4 now there’s a prisoner of war. The Lord Jesus Christ has gathered booty out of Satan’s kingdom.
And He has a prisoner, except the Lord Jesus Christ blesses the prisoner and gives the prisoner, en-gifts him and gives him to the body of Christ because He wants to build up the body of Christ. Why does He want to build up the body of Christ? Because it’s the body of Him.
See, the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul says is the head. I’ll draw a big stick figure here. The church itself is an entity, is a body, and when it’s complete it has a head; the head is the Lord Jesus Christ, but He has this body that He works with, and that body has to be complete prior to the Second Advent. So what’s happening now is the body is becoming complete. Here’s a person that believes, there’s a person that believes. Here’s a black man, here’s a white man, here’s a red man, here’s a yellow man. They’re believing, believing, believing, the same gospel, the same member of the human race.
Then the second thing that happens in this tactical victory is that whenever you have believers that use the same operating assets that the Lord Jesus Christ used and are victorious, when we are victorious over testings and over temptations, we attain a tactical victory because Satan’s been defeated.
If he can’t stop us from being translated into the Kingdom, what he will try to do is make you perfectly fruitless, with no testimony, with nothing to show. Either he tries to prevent you from believing the gospel or he tries to make you an absolute impotent nothing after you accept Christ.
But every time you operate by faith and you claim the authority of the Scriptures, the content of the Bible, apply it in a situation and walk by faith, tactical victory because now fruit has been generated. And every time that tactical victory happens, Satan’s argument is getting weaker and weaker and weaker because his argument depends on the fallacy that creatures have to sin, creatures have the right to act as God. So every time you and I trust the Lord, humble ourselves, “casting our cares upon Him because He cares for us,” tactical victory.
Let’s go to the chart on table 3, page 22. The first table is a defense of the position of Christ. The second table is a defense of the position of the Christian.
Remember I took you to Zechariah and there was that passage where the high priest, Joshua, it was not the Joshua of the Old Testament, the high priest Joshua shows up in the presence of God and he has dirty garments, and Satan is there ready to accuse him, and God says change his garments, give him righteousness. It’s a picture of righteousness, imputed righteousness.
The Hebrew is a lot more graphic than the English, what the Hebrew says is excrement covered garments; that’s what the text says. Of course no translator wants to translate that, it might upset somebody. But that’s what the Holy Spirit put in the original Hebrew text, excrement-covered garments.
That’s the way we look in God’s sight. So God replaces those garments with perfect clean garments, righteousness.
On table 3, the first row across that table is the defense of the basis of how fallen creatures can be acceptable in the throne of God and Satan not be because remember, redemption isn’t offered to angels. That’s the argument here. Why is it, God, you permit these fallen creatures to have …
Name of the Doctrine
Content of the Doctrine
Satan’s Possible Appeal Refuted
Substitutionary Blood Atonement
All grace is grounded upon total restitutionary satisfaction of God’s just demands against sin
There is no unavoidable contradiction between God’s holiness and His acceptance of sinful creatures covered legally by the SBA
God credits Christ’s righteousness to the account of those who believe
The righteousness that is credited is that of Christ whose credentials have been accepted permanently at the Father’s Throne.
[blank spot] … substitutionary blood atonement of Jesus Christ. That’s why there is one way and only one salvation. You see, if God had multiple ways of salvation, like most Americans want to have because everyone wants to do it his way or her way and we don’t want to be told how something should be done, if He followed the plurality of cultures argument and had fifteen ways to be saved, now look what would happen.
Here we have the throne of God. Here we have the person coming up with substitutionary blood atonement, that’s the basis of person A, claims access to God. Person B comes up and they say well I don’t believe in Christ, I believe that I’m good enough and I have enough good works so I merit acceptance with God. I have my little pile here and I’m going to not trust the substitutionary blood atonement, I am not going to look to God to provide my needs, I am demanding that my little measly righteous good works down here fit and are compatible with His righteousness. Now isn’t that cute!
It’s no more narrow minded than the idea that if I’m an electrician, I don’t touch the hot wire. It has nothing to do with my personality, nothing to do with my intelligence, it’s just that’s the way electricity is.
This is just the way God’s holiness is. You don’t go to His holiness with high voltage and touch it. The Lord Jesus Christ has touched it with the substitutionary blood atonement. So that’s why row one on table 3 says that it is the substitutionary blood and ONLY the substitutionary blood atonement. “All grace is grounded upon total restitutionary satisfaction of God’s just demands against sin.”
Remember how we defined it. We dealt with the death of Christ. We said, “What was the underlying issue there?” Your idea of justice, and if you have a biblical idea of justice, it’s restitutionary, and the substitutionary blood fits that mold, that model.
Continuing on that first row across to the third column, “There is no unavoidable contradiction between God’s holiness and His acceptance of sinful creatures covered legally by the Substitutionary Blood Atonement.” That’s a lock, that’s a channel; that is a perfectly secure channel against all arguments.
All appeals bounce off that channel but they bounce ONLY off that channel. That’s why when we refuse to review and to meditate upon the fact that it is only by the Cross of Jesus Christ that I can walk into the throne room of God we’re in danger of heresy. The Cross is central to this. It is the only thing that withstands argument, the only way to resolve this problem.
The second row is the other plank in the platform, “Imputation.” “God credits Christ’s righteousness to the account of those who believe.” Going over to the third column, “The righteousness that is credited is that of Christ.” Note this: “whose credentials have been accepted permanently at the Father’s Throne.”
Notice nowhere in table 3 does it say a thing about your good works. Nowhere is there anything about your personality, your intelligence, whether you’re male, female, what color your skin is, or anything else that’s irrelevant. The only thing that it talks about is the substitutionary atonement of Christ and imputed righteousness. That’s why we have to be adamant about this.
What constitutes the gospel here, because in the [can’t understand word] Satan can have a heyday with any other system for salvation because any other system of salvation that we propose is ultimately going to be based upon our merits. The moment we do that he can claim, wait a minute, I can do good works, too.
So if you’ll look at the bottom of page 22, we finally come to the fifth issue and the end of the review of judgment/salvation, and that is God’s salvation is always by means of faith, never some other way, always by faith. Read the last paragraph of page 22 along with me. “Tactical victories in the angelic conflict cannot be won by human works that originate in the fallen impulses of sinners. ‘Human good’ carries no credit when it originates from an inherently evil motive of self-justification. Satan could then claim that such works would not be fundamentally different from anything he and his hordes could produce.”
Let’s review that sentence again. “Satan could then claim that such works would not be fundamentally different from anything he and his hordes could produce.” Do you suppose he could produce good works? He does all the time, ALL the time; don’t be fooled by satanic good works, charitable things, good things. Now is that saying that we shouldn’t have good things? No, it’s saying the impulse behind them is one of self-justification, I say in my ego because I do this and aren’t I such a good person because I did this, and I did that.
We find it in our Christian evangelical circles, all the time, every church has it. We have it; you’ve got to brush all this human good aside because you can fool yourself. We have to go back to what is the impulse, what is the motive, are we focusing on the risen Lord Jesus Christ, realizing there’s a cosmic battle out there over this very issue of what is of true lasting value before the throne.
Continuing on page 22, “Satan could well make the complaint: ‘if God doesn’t save angels, how can He justly save men on such a basis?’ What defeats Satan and glorifies (vindicates) God is faith in His Word. ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God’ ” and that is one thing that I want to close out emphasizing.
Faith, this faith that is the method that we’ve reviewed every time we’ve had this faith-rest drill, what did we say the first step of the faith-rest drill is, always? Fragment of Scripture, a verse of Scripture. Why is that? Because you can’t have faith without an object for it. Where does the object come from? The Word of God. It can’t come from the word of man; it can’t come from our wisdom. That would be faith in ourselves.
Faith can only come by the Word of God. Faith is produced by the Word of God and that is why Satan has, as one of his methods, to weaken the teaching of the Word of God, because he knows, if Christians don’t know, he knows that if he can compromise the content and the teaching of the Word of God, what can’t happen? You can’t utilize faith, and if you can’t utilize faith, now you can’t exercise and produce fruit, people can’t be won to the Lord, etc.
So it’s a battle that fundamentally harks back to why the Word of God has to be taught and it can’t be compromised with basketball teams, hot musical groups, or anything else that competes with the Word of God, which evangelical circles are getting progressively full of. The one thing that’s at stake here is the thing that produces faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.
We’ve finished this session of Christ. The next event we’re going to deal with is the earthly origin of the church. We’ve dealt so far with the heavenly argument. I handed out the first section of an appendix. We’re going to pause for a few weeks because there have been repeated requests in this class to deal overtly and explicitly with the difference between Reformed Theology’s approach to the church and Dispensational Theology’s approach to the church, so we’re going to spend some time here.
We’ll go into a little bit of church history, this is not a big profound heavy thing. I’m taking highlights of church history and trying to give a brief contrast and comparison between the two systems. Actually the systems have much in common; it’s just that people are making an issue out of this. We’re having people in our own circles feel swept back and forth, they go read a book by this guy and he’s Reform. They read a book by this guy, the Reform guys are saying the dispensationalists is a cult, then the dispensationalists are attacking the way the Reform people do this or that or don’t teach the Word or something else.
So it behooves us to look at this because from now on, as we proceed, session of Christ, Pentecost, Church Age, this is where the road parts. I can’t push any further through the Bible than I am without confronting this issue. I’m going to go down the dispensational road, no apologies for it. I want to clarify why there’s a fork in the road here and why you have to go down one or you go down the other, but you can’t handle the events that we are now going to start handling, the methods, etc. defining the church, defining the church’s mission without dealing with this.
I can be sneaky about it and teach the Scripture says this or that and this, and half of you would go along with it, but I don’t think that has integrity because I want to flag you to what I’m doing and why I’m doing what I’m doing and what’s going on here with some of these issues.
Please read that, and next week we’ll be starting through appendix A. We should be probably three weeks or so in Appendix A.
Question asked: Clough replies: The question is do fallen angels have a chance for redemption or change or repentance? There doesn’t appear to be any evidence in the Scripture for this, because when Jesus confronted demons in one of the gospels, they cry out to Him, “Why have you come to torment us before the time?” They’re not crying out, “Gee, I’m sorry we made a mistake.” They’re saying that their doom is for sure.
And then you have the reference, and it’s a very interesting one in Matthew 25 I believe it is, where the Lord Jesus Christ says to humans, “Depart from Me and be cast into the Lake of Fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” It’s interesting in that reference He’s not saying it was prepared for man, it’s almost like men get thrown into it only because they’ve rejected, rejected, rejected and it wasn’t on God’s heart to put man in the Lake of Fire but it was on His heart to discipline the angels that way. So whatever it is, we don’t know what the details are, we can only go by what the text says, and there doesn’t appear to be any second chances.
This explains the fury, the principalities and powers are ferocious, and Peter is not using mere poetic language when in 1 Peter 5 he says Satan seeks whom he may devour, as a lion he goes about this. There’s a ferocity born of condemnation.
If you know that you can never escape, you know the old saying that the cornered criminal, I’ll take as many of you with me as I can, because what other choice does he have. So you authenticate, it’s almost you use defiance to authenticate your existence. I think this is why Satan uses the kid and the glove; he will alternate strategies in church history. One of his strategies is to prosper the church to get us totally wallowing around in secondary and tertiary issues.
Then if that doesn’t work, then he’ll use intimidation, physical violence, like is happening in Africa. It’s happening in Sudan. It’s happening in Pakistan, Nepal, China. China just had 400 churches burned by the communist regime, just going in with axes, sledge hammers, beating down the churches, burning them, and they think they’re going to stop the church this way.
We don’t laugh at this because our brethren are suffering, but we laugh at in the sense that you know, after 2,000 years you guys haven’t learned that this never stops the church. The church always grows faster when you persecute it. Do you guys ever read history? Surely they read history, so it’s not that the angelic powers that stimulate this hatred, this vehement destructive assault on Christians. It’s not that they don’t understand history, I think, because they’ve witnessed it all, I think it’s a fury, it’s an emotional tantrum, a fury.
Why it happens we don’t have all the answers but I believe that where you see physical violence against the church, against Christians that it’s a tactic of last resort. What’s ever happened in those areas Satan has lost his cool, and he’s coming out in the open, you want to take me on he’s saying, do you really want to take me on, I’ll take you on. How would you like to see your family cut down and have their arms chopped off in front of you, would you like to see that? Do you want to take me on? He can be that way, but when he’s that way the church always grows faster.
So he winds up losing when he gets angry like that. But the fact that he is angry goes back to your point: What else can he do than try to stave off the inevitable?
I’m sure you see this in hostage situations, you know where you’ve got a guy who’s desperate and the negotiator is trying to break down to maneuver that so he doesn’t become defiant, but in Satan’s case it is defiance, he knows there’s no escape, there’s no pardon, so the only maneuver that he can pull is to postpone the inevitable, and he can do that if he can stop the growth of the body of Christ.
You can do that by doctrinal heresies, because doctrinal heresies finally erode the gospel, if you erode the gospel people can’t get saved now because there is a false message. So he has this repertoire of weapons systems all dedicated to trying to postpone the inevitable.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’s a good point, not only does he want to stave off his own doom but he could also say I’m going to get at the heart of God by hurting them, somebody He loves, and that’s a good approach, and I’m sure that probably enters into his maliciousness. We know from human life that human beings think this way.
I was just reading a story about the President of Liberia, this guy got the guy that was before him, cut off his ears and made him eat his own ears. That’s the way life is in Africa. But men can be malicious like this. Who’s the father of lies, murder, and maliciousness? Who’s the greater malicious one?
So I’m sure that enters into it. Excellent point. [If I] Get at God, [I] can’t touch God. Okay, I’ll touch some of His possessions; see how He likes that one. You’re dealing with this kind of anger and hatred and it makes you cautious when you pray and it makes you want to be sure that we’re doing things scripturally because when we drift off like that we’re getting into a bad zone.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’s an astute observation. Let me comment on this. She’s raised an interesting point. Is the faith of Jesus really like the faith of Christians, putting it in those terms?
One of the problems we have, and I’m glad you did this because what’s behind your question, I think, is that Jesus knew things we didn’t know, and so we take it purely by faith. Like we’ve never empirically seen the throne room, Jesus did, that sort of stuff. But we have to be very, very careful here on two points.
One is, remember back when we were dealing with kenosis I took you to a passage in Isaiah and in that passage there’s a prophecy of the Messiah learning as a child, and in that passage you remember it says He woke Me up morning by morning to teach Me. Jesus, in His humanity, had no consciousness of His preexistence. When that consciousness shows up, because His humanity didn’t exist, that’s a sign when He is manifesting His deity, when He says, in John 8 “before Abraham was I AM,” that’s clear His deity is shining forth there.
That’s not His humanity, so that’s the complexities of Jesus, how do you get divinity and humanity together in one Person? Only a miracle, talk about the Trinity problem, the hypostatic union is even worse as far as us understanding it.
But be careful, the humanity of Christ is genuine humanity and He learned just as we learned, and that’s why even in Hebrews it says He learned obedience by the things He suffered. It didn’t come (quote) “naturally” to Him, in the sense that you’re thinking, that He was kind of relying on His omniscience occasionally to under gird His faith. That’s one thing.
The second thing is we want to be very, very careful as Christians that we understand how we use this word f-a-i-t-h. Our whole culture out there, the popular culture has ingrained in us a false definition of what we mean by f-a-i-t-h.
The common street version is that faith is weak knowledge, that when you don’t KNOW something, well I just believe that’s so. So what you believe is unprovable. What you believe is disconnected from reason, and that’s not true.
Romans 1 says, follow me just for a minute here, Romans 1 says what? We know what? We know God is! Always! Everywhere! And we know His righteous judgments, all men, even non-Christians know that. What has happened to us is because of the blindness of sin in our fallen nature, we don’t daily, moment by moment perceive God.
I’m not talking about His throne room now; I’m talking about a consciousness that He’s here, the consciousness that we are right now utilizing Him to be able to talk to each other. The structure of language is rooted on the sustaining hand of God.
The fact that we can reason … if we were just mass in motion and marbles rolling around there’d be no reason, there’d be no absolute standards; there’d be no moral rules. All those are coming to us all the time from God because it’s that that Paul says that condemns us. It’s not that we wind up, oh God, if you would just make Yourself clearer to me.
I think God must struggle to not say to us when we think that, Excuse me but you already know Me, why don’t you wake up to what you already know; you know I made you, you’re using Me, you’re walking on My grass, you’re breathing My air, you’re reasoning with My logic, and you say you don’t know Me?
So the problem is we’re trying to deal with our own fallenness, our own deadness, our own blindness, to the presence of God. And the only way I can say it is you’ve got to meditate very deeply and long and hard on passages like Romans 1 to convince yourself that in fact we do know, we’re just fooling ourselves when we say we don’t know God.
So there are two things to sum it up. One is Jesus learned and developed His faith like we do, and the second thing is faith is not the absence of reason; faith is the exercise of reason.
That’s the unbeliever that’s invented that because hidden inside that little idea is that God is either uncaring or incompetent. He’s uncaring because He’s sneaky, He doesn’t really let us see the evidence for His existence, He just wants us to believe. Or He is incompetent and He’s not really efficient in how He reveals Himself.
Well those thoughts are blasphemous, that God wishes our ill and that He’s incompetent. What kind of a picture of God is that? Who’s the author of that slop? So when you keep running your mind up against Romans 1, up against Psalm 119, up against those passages, it just starts to jar your whole idea of I don’t think I’m using the word “faith” right here. So you’ve got to be careful of that.
And I think we’ll be careful and dismiss now, and next week we’ll start with a few weeks of theology class.