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The Meaning and End of History

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
January 1, 2021 7:00 am

The Meaning and End of History

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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January 1, 2021 7:00 am

The worlds ultimate history lesson starts before the beginning of time, introduces us to a Divine Planner, describes an epic battle between good and evil, projects the restoration of a broken world and answers the age-old question, what is the meaning of life? This may not sound like your average history lesson, but its the Biblical version as described by Dr. Boice in this broadcast of The Bible Study Hour.

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The world's ultimate history lesson starts before the beginning of time introduces us to a divine planner describes an epic battle between good and evil projects. The restoration of a broken world and answers the age-old question, what is the meaning of life. This may not sound like your average history lesson, but it's the biblical version as described by Dr. James Boyce today on the Bible study our welcome to the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. Many people believe that Jesus Christ was influential in the course of human history. What specifically distinguishes a Christian is the belief that Christ also gives meaning to, and is the ultimate judge of that history.

Not many people would be as forthright's had in their evaluation of history as Henry Ford, the inventor and industrialist, but there is a suspicion in many secular winds today that Henry Ford may have been right in 1919 and the midst of a libel trial with the Chicago Tribune. Henry Ford said history is bunk and on another occasion when he was asked about the meaning of history. He said history is merely the succession of one darn thing after another.

Only he didn't use the word darn.

This is a hard judgment. Of course, many people resisted because of history has no meaning in life has no meaning, and in the final analysis I have no meaning. One person strangely enough it fought against.

This was Karl Marx. Marx was no Christian.

He wasn't even a Deist. Marx was an atheist, and yet he tried to find a meaning of history by combining Hegel's historical dialectic with firebox materialism as a result of which he produced an idea of history that involve class struggle based upon economics. Feuerbach had said using the pond in the German language that would diminish is to bless our East which means man is what he eats at Memphis that material things are the basis of all things, and this is what Marx picked up on. He said economic factors are determinative and therefore what we can see in history as class struggle leading eventually to the victory of the classless state we had something very similar in the Western world. Of course it has not been atheistic. It's what has generally been referred to as the idea of progress through the inevitability of progress in my mind. The thing that has always symbolized this best was that series of cinematic newsreels produced by the time life Corporation before, during and for a while after the second world war. The series was called the march of time.

You remember those newsreels, you know how the newsreel was always accompanied by stirring martial music, the voice of an assured confidence announcer and the viewer was almost overwhelmed, dazzled, perhaps by succession of images and pictures from around the world gave the impression that ours was a fast-paced, modern and inevitably progressive, perhaps even a perfecting age.

Yet as I say it's very hard to maintain that kind of optimism about history. Which now has seen two world wars numerous lesser wars throughout the world and frequent overflowing so senseless death and violence, which time to time sweep over our planet like a plague worth noting here that the two most distinguished modern historians, Oswald Spangler, Germany, and Arnold Toynbee from England have both tended to see history as cyclical pattern of birth, growth, decay and finally death. Both of them have evaluated history and far different terms they are not pessimistic to the same degree and yet they tend to see history of cycles, which is just a way of saying that history and their view is not altogether different than the view, the Greeks had a history so many thousands of years ago Spangler is the one who developed this most consistently predicting that all cultures eventually die and he entitled his two volume history of the world. The decline of the West is a prediction of what was going to happen and he gained a great measure of fame as a result, well, is that really what we have to save history is history really meaningless is life in the final analysis meaning is just the succession of one thing after the other. Interesting that the apostle Paul who himself was no mean historian you had a great historical perspective, spoke something entirely different. Apostle Paul in writing to the Ephesians said that the meaning of history is to be found in the church of Jesus Christ, and in what God by his grace is doing through those people in the church, whom he has brought to faith in his name. Paul wrote this in Ephesians 310 is intense is that now, through the church the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is a tremendous statement and its arrival contrast. Indeed, it is a 180° reversal. What is present in most secular minds. John Stott expresses the contrast like this secular history. He said concentrates its attention on kings and queens and presidents and politicians and generals.

In fact on the VIPs Bible concentrates rather on the group, it calls the Saints often little people and significant people, unimportant people who are, however, at the same time, God's people, and for that reason, are both unknown to the world and yet well known to God. Secular history concentrates on wars, battles and peace treaties followed by yet more wars, battles and peace treaties Bible concentrates rather on the war between good and evil on the decisive victory one by Jesus Christ over the powers of darkness on the peace treaty ratified by his blood, and on the sovereign proclamation of an amnesty for all rebels who will repent and believe.

Again, he says secular history concentrates on the changing map of the world as one nation defeats another annexes its territory and on the rise and fall of empires Bible concentrates rather on the multi national community called the church which has no territorial frontiers, which claims nothing less than the whole world. Christ and whose empire will never come to an end.

This is the great reality that the apostle Paul holds before our days as he makes known in this passage, the administration of the mystery which for ages past was kept hidden in God, but which is now revealed for our benefit.

According to this passage. It's not only before our eyes. That's the apostle Paul holds forth this great mystery of the church. The center of God's plan and history tells us that this is also demonstrated before the host of heaven, we calls the principalities and powers in the heavenly realms raises an interesting question. We might think.

And no doubt likely that the heavenly powers understand things more fully than we do so if they are gazing on his Paul says they are.

See what God's great eternal purpose is we ask rightly what are they looking at what is manifold wisdom that the heavenly powers see in the church of Jesus Christ. What is the purpose of God, which is revealed in us. I think the passage suggests a number of things in their very significant.

Let me take him first. The church shows God's purpose in bringing together otherwise divided individuals in Jesus Christ.

This is what the earlier verses were talking about. Of course Paul began to deal with this theme. At the end of the second chapter of his letter. He's been talking about in the first portion of chapter 3 is undoubtedly the thing which is most on his mind and those earlier verses. He's thinking about that great rupture between Jews and Gentiles was so characteristic and so sharpen his time, the Jews detested the Gentiles the Gentiles the test of the Jews, Paul is saying as he writes himself a Jew to a Gentile church, God is not a marvelous thing in the church in bringing together these mutually hostile nations and factors all into one new body one new humanity one new entity.

Through Christ's work of redemption in the regeneration of their lives. It's very, very significant. That is, as it were, where Paul is coming from.

Yet as I read this carefully. I sense that in his reference to the church.

In verse 10 it in those verses immediately preceding. He's thinking of something even greater than that in the earlier verses, Paul is thinking of the historical situation of his day. He's thinking of Jew and Gentile, the friction that existed and how that's been overcome, how the middle wall of partition of the Jewish Temple has been torn down, how the veil of the temple is been torn in two from top to bottom. When he gets on in this section to talk about God's great purpose of the church's mind focuses not merely on that immediate period of history in which he lives, but rather runs back into the far distant past and runs ahead in the far distant future. I think he gives out a way when he introduces that fact in verse nine that God created all things, we read that God created all things, what we think of when we think back to the early chapters of Genesis. When God created all things in pristine perfection. When sin was absent from the world.

We recall that it was shortly after that sin entered with sin, alienation, division, hostility, rancor, all of those things which have characterized history made the history of the human race. The dreadful thing.

It is remember that when sin entered the alienation that took place was not only between our first parents and God that was primary extreme, but it was also an alienation that took place between the man and the woman in between all others who followed them in the race when Adam and Eve first sin, they hit when God came calling in the garden.

They tried to avoid the encoder. God called them forward anyway and said to them, Adam.

What is this that you've done have you eaten of the tray that I told you not saying that the day in which you eat of it you would die. Adam began to make excuses. Adam said the woman that you gave me you put here to be with me.

She gave me and I ain't now the surface.

I was true enough.

Woman had given him the fruit God had made the woman but what Adam was really doing was blaming other people. He was blaming God because God gave them the woman, and he was blaming the woman and by that I buy those words. He demonstrated graphically the rupture that it taken place between the two of them in God and then between themselves and all others would come thereafter.

This is the history of the race sin, blaming other people hostility rising up alienation following. With that in mind I think Paul has in view of the gray reconciling power of the gospel of Jesus Christ as those who for many reasons, are divided in their hatred and suspicion of one another, together as redeemed and forgiven sinners of the cross of Jesus Christ, redeemed by the work of Christ forgiven by God the father and all that in such a way that there is no valid cause for alienation within Christchurch because salvation is by grace. Salvation world works, which is what we would want and which is even what the Angels working on might've expected they would've said well he fell by bad works.

I should be redeemed by good works, salvation world works.

You say, then the alienation would not be overcome because I would look to my works, you would look to your works, and we would say well whose works are better, we would say who has the better tradition or we would say who is most faithful in carrying out the commands of God. All of the rivalry.

All of the hostility would remain instead of that you see God has demonstrated is manifold wisdom in saving human beings by grace received through the channel of human thing.

Now these forgiven sinners stand together in the church of Christ and they don't say well I'm good I'm better. I'm best. I say I'm here solely by the grace of God. You are here solely by the grace of God, and it is our duty as redeemed people.

It is our privilege as redeemed people to praise him. So the alienation is over, and the walls of hostility are broken down and well made. The Angels looking on, say, oh, the wonder of the manifold wisdom of Almighty God, then there's a second thing and that is the displaying of the life and nature of Christ by Christian people before the world see, I've been talking up to this point about the church as the focal point of history and that is proper because that's what Paul says but it would be equally proper to speak of Jesus Christ as the focal point of history because that is what Paul says to say we're talking about this ministry that's been revealed, which in verses nine and 10 is the church. The mystery which for ages past was kept hidden in God but namely, is this now that through the church is manifold wisdom might be demonstrated before the Angels stairs. The mystery, but if we go back a few verses we find the phrase the mystery of Christ, the other occurrences of the word mystery. There were four of them altogether. Refer to the gospel which is centered in the work of Christ, which has as its object the bringing into being of the church, composed of his redeemed people's body. The idea of the body.

You see, that holds the two together because to say that the church is the focal point of history is the same thing as saying Jesus is the focal point of history.

If the church is the body of Jesus Christ in the world. So when we talk about the meaning of history we talk about life and meaning of him who is our Savior number of years ago. Oscar, who is professor of early church history of New Testament at the University of Basel in Switzerland, wrote a book which was widely discussed in title Christ in time the beginning of that book: pointed out that in the Western world. We don't reckon time from some fixed point in the past, adding on as it were, a year after year to the present and on into the future, but rather we measure time from a fixed point in the past. Reckon forward and what we call years of ADD meaning of anno Domini year of our Lord and backwards sin years that we reckon BC which means before Christ, and said you see that's not just accident. Let's not just the way it happened, but rather that's symbolic of the fact that the Christian mind the meaning of history is found in Jesus Christ, so that understand the years before his coming, you must look to be scuttling in order to understand the years after his coming. We who live now must look back a secular historian might look at the coming of Christ and find it significant for secular reasons you might say he would be right. Look at the great impact this one individual had upon history why you can't understand the history of the Western world without trying to understand who Jesus Christ is and what he did not, of course, is true of the Christian means more than that the Christian means not only that Jesus Christ is been influential in history, but the Jesus Christ gives meaning to history and is the judge of history, you would know what history is about. You must look to him and you must look to him as he is seen in his body, the church of Jesus Christ living in this present world. See how important that latter point is Jesus Christ is not just some abstract historical idea is not just a past incident. Jesus Christ is not merely the crucified one, Jesus Christ is the reason why the living Lord what was seen in his people, and that means that if the world is to see Jesus as the focal point of history, they must see Jesus as he is lived out in those who were given hands and feet and nerves, and sinews to his life begin to say I think when we begin to talk in those terms. Why the church is so important and why even the Angels look on to see what God is demonstrating in his people in this world and then thirdly, God is showing as he unveils his manifold wisdom in us that suffering for truth and righteousness is the weight of glory and the secret of true happiness.

This is true, if only because the way of Jesus is the way of suffering.

Jesus himself said if you were of the world, the world would love you because you're not of the world. The world is not love you. The world hates you, and persecute you because it hated and persecuted me, not only for that reason. Also, because that's what Paul gets to with the end of the passage. Verse 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you which are your glory start some little incidental sentence of Paul taxon was talking about what God is doing in history. What Paul is saying as he speaks to his own experiences. This is what God is doing it. Maybe because I'm a part of the church God is allowing me to suffer as Jesus Christ suffered that in my sufferings manifold wisdom of God might be sitting is the essence of the Christian life are living on the promise that Jesus will solve every difficulty in our life… With material abundance, it was good health, make us happy. Keep us from harm. While hardly let me tell you, in a nutshell, what I think God is doing in his church in human history, when Satan first rebelled against God, and went his way. God could well have responded in wrath alienating Satan and perhaps even annihilating him from the universe and all the fallen Angels as well.

That would've been just God is a just judge of the universe that would even have been reasonable. We might even say if we carry it further than it would've been merciful because of God determines to create Adam and Eve as we believe he had having determine them from before the creation of the world and including before the creation even of Satan, and in view of that by annihilating Satan and his host. God have eliminated the principle of evil from the world we might have been able to say afterwards. God is merciful in his judgment because he spared Adam and Eve. The tragedy Satan would not of been there to tempt our first parents race would not follow in sin and death would not of past about all those who came afterwards.

But God didn't do that I would've demonstrated. As I said, God's justice and God's reason and perhaps even God's mercy, but it would not have manifested his great wisdom. So instead of annihilating Satan. God said something like this, God said, I have already determined to create this race of human beings.

And I know because I know all things that Satan this fallen malicious Angel is going to intrude in that creation then bring about man's ruin. Satan is going to tempt them to rebel unreasonably against me. I guess my righteousness by truth by way and Satan is going to bring misery upon the human race said when he has done that Satan is going to sit back and he is going to laugh but he is going to think he's one of the is corrupted. This great creation, but I'm going to make, but I'm going to do something instead of allowing that to go on, I'm going to intervene myself. I'm going to reach down into that mass fallen miserable humanity, and by your grace, not because of anything in them but by pure grace, I'm going to begin to save some.

I'm going to do it through the work of my son Jesus is going to die for them, but he's going to demonstrate the pattern of life that I expect them to live and by my grace.

I'm going to renew them and they're going to come to Jesus in faith and trust him and they're going to begin to live the way he lived. I'm going to do this. Satan is going to be boasting about how well he does and he is going to throw up in my face the fact that I take care of my people. He's going to say is going to say about Joe.

Why the reason John trust you is because you think you prosper him you give them things so I'm going to do is this here and there and in the great variety of ways. I'm going to allow my own trust, but you will been made alive through Jesus Christ, to suffer as he suffered, I'm going to allow their things to be taken away. I'm going to allow their health to fail. I'm going to allow gray heartache and disappointments to come into their lives and Satan is going to sign now. Curse God. I'm going to show that they won't curse God, but that even in their suffering will praise and honor me and demonstrate that even when life goes wrong.

Still the way to happiness is the way of truth and righteousness which I have demonstrated in Jesus Christ. And so God allowed to unfold as it were. This great cosmic drama of human history the Angels so the spectators human beings are the actors and in time God brings all of his characters upon the world stage as Adam and Eve. First of all know Abraham and Moses, David and Isaiah and John the Baptist and Jesus and Paul and Peter and all the others down to our own time and in each life. God demonstrates part of his great thesis.

Adam demonstrated his part Adam's sin, but he repented of the sin he said no, that sin which I thought was going to make me why this was the way to disaster God's way is the weight wisdom and so he repented of that we trusted the Savior who was to come in so deep and so did Abraham and so did all the others is by the grace of God. They proved standing for truth and suffering for righteousness is the way to glory in the secret of real happiness and now you and I are standing on that stage, we have our part to play and we have our lines to speak in the Angels, the holy angels of God are looking on what they want to see in you is the demonstration of the manifold wisdom of God. Are they saying that you they must see it in you because you were the only place where that wisdom of God may be found is for you to demonstrate the truth and righteousness of God and how you work, how you play what you think and the words you speak to the price of the glory of our God forever and ever. Let us pray all our great father. How can we possibly sinful and ignorant human beings we are absorbed.

A plan is great is that sometimes we look to the past and we see parts of it that we think we understand and we look to the future and we say we believe how it will end here in our lives day by day, the nitty-gritty of this world we just don't see it, but our father give us grace to play the part. Give us strength to speak true words give us the courage to point to Jesus. Even when the world we know caves in and in our prosperity, which perhaps all those things is the greatest danger was grace to acknowledge that all good things come from.

You are to be used by those to whom you give them as stewards who hold them in trust for spiritual lands. So father in us. As in all your saints and all ages grants that your wisdom might be seen to the praise of the glory of Jesus Christ our Savior. You are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce, a listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888.

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