Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1
April 30, 2006
:God's method of victory is the sacrifice of the physical and visible while incrementally building the immoveable foundations of Final Life.
:In the beginning, after God created the visible world, He set before the man whom He had created for life, a challenge to Live by Faith in the integrity of His words. He did this in a setting in which man would have to juggle several issues of "faith". The first issue would be this question: shall I simply accept the apparent meaning of the words of God as the guide to my actions? If he answered this question in the affirmative, he would live as long as he had a legitimate grasp of what God meant. If, however, he did not answer in the affirmative, the second issue he would face would be this question: shall I determine the truthfulness of God's words by what I "see"? If he answered this question incorrectly, the words of God would be subjected to, and subverted by, the physical world. If he refused to make "sight" his foundation, the third issue would be this question: shall I determine the truthfulness of God's words by what I "feel"? If he answered this question incorrectly, the words of God would be subjected to, and subverted by, his emotional world. But, if he rejected the emotional world, the fourth issue would be this question: shall I determine the truthfulness of God's words by what I "want"? If he answered this question incorrectly, the words of God would be subjected to, and subverted by, the spiritual world.
It was into this "juggling act" that the Serpent came. Man was thus "tempted" to subvert a God-given understanding of Truth, with sufficient plainness of meaning to prevent Death, by the sophistry of an appeal to set himself in opposition to God and reject His "Truth".
Since then, it has been the Plan of God to bring His creation to a full blown, solidly mature, loyalty to Truth by using the very activities of the evil one that are designed to create a full blown, determinedly wicked, opposition to Truth.
This morning, we consider Luke's transition from John to Jesus, in Luke 3:19-20, in the light of this Master Plan of God.
- I. The Record of the Text.
- A. Is a record of a "climax" of evil.
- 1. Herod had been doing a great number of evil things.
- 2. Herod's evil had gotten to the point of the complete subversion of Truth by the onslaught of the temptations of physical lust, relational lust, and spiritual lust, so that he had entered into a significant uncleanness before God (Leviticus 20:21).
- a. The woman involved is called "the wife of his brother" -- a clear rejection of the human "divorce" and "remarriage" issues.
- b. It was not that she had been his brother's wife (it was not just permissable in the Law to "marry" one's brother's wife, but it was commanded -- see Luke 20:27-28); it was that she was still his brother's wife.
- 3. Herod "capped" the progression of evil in his life by the attempt to smother the words of God by isolating His spokesman.
- B. Is a record of a "persistent" pursuit by good.
- 1. John was God's instrument of the pursuit of the damned -- snakes condemned to the folly of self-destruction.
- 2. John's instrumentality was that of a truth-proclaimer who both identified deep error and stood between the damned and the error that was destroying them.
- 3. John's arrest was just another "step" in the effective Plan of God -- for by it, Herod made John's preaching about the folly of self-destruction all the more effective.
- a. Those who were balancing between John's summons to regeneration and the appeal of the "heroic" life of full self-indulgence were having to deal with the "truth" of the opposite answers to the question of "whence comes life?".
- b. When John, who had obtained the reputation as a prophet of God, was arrested by Herod, the very people Herod wish to "impress" with his "life" were suddenly sharply aware that he was "evil".
- 1) He arrested John to suppress his influence.
- 2) The arrest expanded his influence.
- c. This resulting awareness actually "pushed" people in the balance to recoil from the allure of the "hero".
- d. This was God's intent in His pursuit. It is far more important that people be aware of the enormous dangers of evil than it is for God's servants to be physically protected from evil people.
- II. The "Point" of the Text.
- A. Luke clearly wanted to make John's "arrest" the focus of his reader(s) attention as he shifted to his record of Jesus.
- 1. This is clear from the fact that John and Jesus actually had overlapping ministries for a period of time -- which Luke ignores (see John's record).
- 2. This is clear from the fact that Luke deliberately returned to his 3:1 thesis that the Kingdom of God was being visibly trampled upon by the power of the kingdoms of this world.
- B. Luke, therefore, must have wished to raise the issue of how God's Kingdom functions during this time in which Evil is allowed to appear to triumph.
- 1. One of the most perplexing issues in the minds of most men is the issue of how God expects men to "believe" Him when His "will" is constantly allowed to be the "loser" when push comes to shove.
- a. Anyone with half a brain knows that an omnipotent God can do anything He pleases.
- b. Anyone with half a brain can see that what God says He "pleases" is constantly being allowed to be smothered in the mud of evil as the boots of the wicked trample upon it.
- c. How can God mean what He says He pleases when He will not even protect those who proclaim what He says?
- d. When push comes to shove, it certainly "looks" like God is all talk and no do.
- 1) The "Greeks" considered God's speech "foolishness" for this very reason (1 Corinthians 1:23).
- 2) The "Jews" considered God's speech "offensive" for this very reason.
- 2. So the most persistent summons of God to men is the summons to listen to Him in such a way that what "appears" is not the definition of "reality".
- a. Man's problem started when he stopped "listening" and began to define final reality by his eyes, emotions, and desires.
- b. Man's problem is invariably resolved when he begins to "listen" and hear the divine claim that what appears is not what shall be.
- III. The Issue for Us.
- A. Man's problem has always been that he shortens his perspective from eternity to the "now".
- B. Man's problem has always been that his fixation on power means "never having to let it appear that he has failed".
- C. Man's problem has, therefore, only one solution: believe that God's pronouncement of victory is genuine in spite of appearances.