2.1.29 Mr. Heaster's Final Speech - The Need For Proper Understanding
Good evening. I would like to tell you a little bit about one of the stories you will hear from the old folks in London in Southeast England where I am originally from. They talk back to what it was like in the war in 1940-41 and they will tell you how they used to go out into the backyard and look up at the sky at night and they would see the British fighters fighting the bombers and whenever one of the German bombers came down there was a kind of cheer went up and a sort of praying for our boys up there kind of thing. It seems to me that's what the Abrahamic Faith people are doing. You are looking out of yourself all the time, up, to where this battle is going on, this evil spirit being outside you, and all the time you are missing the real point, the real enemy. The real enemy is not outside you, the battle is not going on up in the sky somewhere. It is going on here, inside you, in your own mind, in your own heart. That is why I think this issue is not academic.
This thing is fundamentally practical because if you take on board this idea that the devil is indeed your own human desires and all these metaphors spring into life - it's a roaring lion, it's a snake hissing through the grass towards you - and it makes you realise the urgency of being spiritually minded. I suggest to you that that's where true Christianity is different from any other form of religion in the sense that we realise the importance of spiritual mindedness and of developing the mind of Christ and doing battle within ourselves.
Now, Mark is saying this isn't a salvation issue. Well, I'm not so sure about that because anything that has implications with the sacrifice of Christ is very important. Christ destroyed the devil by his death on the cross because he had our nature. Now I would suggest that is very fundamental because he goes on to say that Christ did that for the sake of the seed of Abraham. Now the seed of Abraham is something that you know quite a lot about. He says that Christ was not of angels' nature but he was of man's nature so that he could save the seed of Abraham by means of the fact that he had human nature and that he overcame that devil, that human nature, in his death on the cross. So then if we are the seed of Abraham, then we have got to understand these things. This is why we must be baptized into Christ by full immersion into his death, into his resurrection, so that we share in the death and resurrection of Christ. We must be baptized so that is he our representative, so that because he had our own bad nature, the devil within him, and because he overcame it, if we are in Christ, then we also will be able to overcome sin and to reach salvation. That's an important point that Christ was not a substitute as I believe the Abrahamic Faith Church teach, but he was our representative.
So then, those promises to Abraham and to his seed were that they should inherit the earth for ever and it's only by properly becoming the seed of Abraham that we can be saved. I suppose we have to say to you like Christ said to the Jews, " Don't immediately think once you hear me say that, oh we're okay, we are the seed of Abraham" because I would suggest that our baptism is only valid by reason of the beliefs that we held when we went under that water. I would suggest that unless we properly understand the nature of Christ, the nature of the Atonement, and indeed, our own nature, then I would question whether we really had that correct knowledge at the time of our baptism. Please, see the need for proper understanding.
Now, just a couple of final points to wind up with, we are told this issue is not particularly that important; it is as academic, Mark told us, as when the Gospel of Mark was written. Well, some of the things that have been said are not that academic. For example, that we can hypothetically sin in the Kingdom of God. That's fundamental, absolutely fundamental to gospel of the Kingdom of God. It doesn't sound like much good news to me if hypothetically we can sin, if we have not escaped the devil, if we have not escaped human nature. If we can theoretically sin through eternity, then for eternity theoretically the devil is still alive. If the devil theoretically makes you sin, and he has told us that theoretically you can sin in the Kingdom, then theoretically the devil is alive, the devil has not been destroyed. What happened on the cross? If the devil was not destroyed theoretically, he's there for ever.
You are very touchy obviously about the fallen angel question, and I suggest why the Abrahamic Faith Church is so touchy when you start talking about " did Satan fall, was he an angel" is because they are faced with this problem of " Did God create Satan?" Mark more or less admitted that is a real problem area. Of course it's a problem area if Satan is a sinful personal supernatural being and God created him - well, that is an affront to almighty God. Is this a debate about academics? Are we talking about semantics here? I don't think so, I think we are talking about the holiness and the righteousness of God in day by day living.
Now, Mark admitted that in the Old Testament, there was no warning to Israel about Satan causing them to sin, but he admitted that there was a warning about our own natural desires causing us to sin. By baptism, we are the new Israel, so I would suggest that for the believers today the issues are still the same. There is no being prowling around actually physically going to try to make us sin, but what we have got to watch, just as Israel had to, was our own human nature, and to overcome it. Now as I have said, sin is personified. We agree on that.
Now the point I would like to leave you with is: if you agree that sin is personified, and come on it must be personified, you can't get away from it - as a king, as a paymaster, etc. - if sin is personified, and as you also admit that the word Satan and Devil can just mean an enemy, an adversary, it doesn't always have to mean this supernatural being outside you, then what's your problem in accepting what we are putting to you, that sin is personified, and that personification has a name - the devil, the enemy, Satan, our great enemy, which is ourselves. Now if then think of this problem of evil in the sense of disaster, calamity, like Job having all those problems, if you feel that angels are bringing those problems into your life, fine, fair enough, so they are, but as long as you don't say that those angels are actually sinful beings, or that they are some supernatural force of evil or sin outside you, and that are somehow against the will of God. I think in some ways, Mark had a very hard job this afternoon because there are so many contradictions that he's got to grapple with and that he has to persuade people of. What I suggest is that what has happened or what the Abrahamic Faith Church do in your literature about the devil, you pick a lot of passages like " the prince of this world, the god of this world, Satan transformed as an angel of light, Satan fell from heaven" - things which superficially have a bit of ring to them about Satan and sin falling from heaven, and you put them together and come up with the conclusion you do. But I suggest that when you analyse passage by passage what those particular scriptures mean, you are in trouble, because you realise that they cannot all refer to the same being or to the same incident. For example the passages that talk about Satan falling from heaven. You can't line them all up and say, yes, they are all talking about the same thing. There's problems.
And so, in conclusion, then, we do have a lot of respect for you, for your enthusiasm for Biblical scholarship, and your desire to get back to Bible teaching. What we are saying, is that there is a very fundamental difference here and it is important as far as we are concerned, and yes, we do believe it could affect salvation. And so we put the message out to you quite clearly today that you have got to re-evaluate whether you really understand the cross of Calvary, whether you really understand the blood of Christ, and whether you really are " in Christ" by having been properly baptized into him; whether you really understand his victory over sin, whether you can enter into the degree to which he strove against the sinful tendencies inside him, the sinful nature, and the glorious degree to which he overcame.
That is our Hope, that's the thing which motivates our lives so that we can live in the true knowledge that Christ has conquered sin and that we are not worried about some spectral battle up in the sky, but we know what he has done for us and we know what he has achieved in prospect for the whole human race. And so it just remains for me to say, we really do mean it, may God bless you, may God open your eyes to the scriptures, may God give you travelling mercies as you all go home. We do hope you will stay afterwards and chat with some of us. Our desire is that eventually, we might all walk in his Kingdom.