Calvary Road Baptist Church

October 31, 2014 - 319 West Olive Avenue, Monrovia, California 91016 (626) 357-2711

“THE IMMEDIATE POSSESSION OF CHRIST”

Song of Solomon 6.3; John 20.27-28

There are really only two religions known to mankind, to the angels, and to God. The one religion, devised by the Devil and naturally embraced by sinful man even in the Garden of Eden, is the religion that esteems man more highly than is deserved and estimates God to be lower than He really is, supposing that God is within reach of man’s grasp, supposing that God is somehow attainable by man’s best efforts. The other religion (if it rightly be called that), sees God as holy, high and lifted up,[1] whose majesty inspires terror, whose voice is full of majesty, who is clothed in majesty, and whose majesty is glorious,[2] while recognizing that mankind is trapped in a horrible pit of condemnation,[3] recognizing that every man is both unwilling and unable to bring about his own deliverance,[4] is without hope of discovering any means of rescue,[5] and is very far removed from God and any hope of reaching God as a consequence of his own personal sin.[6]

Hinduism, of course, is but one branch of the first religion. Hinduism posits that there are, in fact, millions of gods, with each of them to be worshipped by means of a system of appeasements whereby they are placated by people who do things that please them. Yet we must ask, how does Hinduism know there are millions of gods and there are ways of pleasing and placating these many, many gods? They have no religious books that claim to be in any way divinely revealed. They make no claims of these many gods communicating with men by means of any objective or verifiable method. When all is said and done, Hinduism relies completely on its age and the refusal of its adherents to challenge it as a belief system. Hinduism denies the miraculous, believes in the reincarnation of the soul and the return of those who have died either to a higher or lower form of life, and is horrified at the prospect of killing an animal that may very well be a reincarnated close relative come back from the dead.

Buddhism is another branch of the first religion, arising from Hinduism when a man born long ago in Nepal left his wife and child to begin a life of reflection and meditation. What a nice way of describing abandoning your responsibilities as a husband and father. Like Hinduism, Buddhism embraces the notion of karma and reincarnation. However, unlike Hinduism, Buddhism denies that there are any gods. It is essentially atheistic, having no holy books they claim to be divinely revealed, believing that a person suffers through life in an almost endless series of reincarnations until he, at last, attains Nirvana, nothingness, and then disappears into nothingness. Wasn’t that an early Star Trek episode? How can Buddhism arise out of Hinduism, yet Hinduism believe in millions of gods while Buddhism really believes in no gods, though both carve statues to bow down to and insist that the poor give offerings to? They both are committed to irrationality and a willingness to abandon tightly reasoned logic with respect to religion.

Yet another branch of this first kind of religion is Islam, though Muslims would vehemently deny any resemblance to either Hinduism or Buddhism. To be sure, Islam abhors the idolatry of Hinduism’s million gods, as well as the idolatry of Buddhism’s eagerness to bow before statues of the Buddha. Islam is aggressively and energetically monotheistic, repelled by the thought of Allah not being a singular unity, and determined to erroneously insist that Biblical Christianity embraces the notion of three gods, Father, Son, and the Virgin Mary. However, despite their vehement denials, I respectfully insist that Islam is very much a branch of the first religion. Why do I so insist? Muslims are convinced that Allah can be obeyed by adherence to the so-called five pillars of Islam, thus agreeing in essence with the Hindus and the Buddhists about the spiritual condition of man, that his real need is educational to offset his ignorance, that he is capable though uninformed. Here are the five pillars that Islam claims can be achieved to please Allah once one has been informed:

Ÿ  Faith or belief in the Oneness of God and the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad;

Ÿ  Establishment of the daily prayers;

Ÿ  Concern for and almsgiving to the needy;

Ÿ  Self-purification through fasting; and

Ÿ  The pilgrimage to Mecca for those who are able.

To reiterate, then, there are only two religions. I assert that the first religion, devised by the Devil and embraced by sinful men, has various branches and have so far identified among them Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam as conflicting branches of the first kind of religion. Have you yet noticed the one thing each branch of this first religion exhibits as a common characteristic? See if you can guess while I rehearse two other branches of this first religion, this wrong religion, if you will.

Next, we consider communism, or as it is termed these days since the fall of the Soviet Union and the breaking down of the Berlin wall, secular humanism. Of course, it is a religion since what a religion is is a philosophical faith system, that embraces a set of values and assertions about reality, both seen and unseen. The religion known as secular humanism (and it has been ruled in a court of law to be a religion, by the way), Marxism, communism, and claimed by many adherents to be irreligion, operates on the firm and resolute conviction of materialism, that there is nothing that is not matter and energy. There is no such thing as spirit or a spiritual realm, thereby explaining their tenacity in holding onto evolution as the only explanation for mankind’s superiority over all other visible forms of life. What gives it away as a branch of the first religion? Their optimism, secular humanism’s high estimation of mankind having the potential to solve every problem we face, even if it requires someday developing the warp drive so we can escape a polluted and dying planet by fleeing to the stars.

Finally, though not completely, but because of time constraints, I bring to your attention the branch of the first kind of religion known as Roman Catholicism. If I make Muslims mad by insisting that Islam is but a variant of a religion that has Hinduism and Buddhism as other branches, then I will certainly anger both Roman Catholics and Muslims by asserting they are two branches of one false religion. Catholicism, despite embracing the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity, despite claiming to hold the Bible in high esteem, and despite constantly referring to God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, reveals its Satanic origin in a number of ways, including its wholesale commitment to idolatry. However, it is Catholicism’s high estimation of man, coupled with its own blasphemously low opinion of God, and substituting the Roman Church for the role that the Lord Jesus Christ has reserved solely for Himself as the one Mediator between God and men,[7] that shows Rome for what it truly and despicably is; antichrist.

Have you guessed what it is yet? Please, do not speak out and give it away. It begins with their view of man. Every branch of the first kind of religion, the wrong religion, that which was devised by the Devil and has been eagerly embraced by men in one form or the other, sees mankind as being far better than fallen man really is. Be they Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, secular humanists, Roman Catholics, or branches I haven’t have the time to refer to, they have in common what is in essence an optimism regarding man’s spiritual capabilities and inclinations. The Hindus and Buddhists think men can eventually improve over innumerable cycles of reincarnation. Secular humanists think mankind is ever upwardly evolving and capable of finally and inevitably solving every problem that faces us. Muslims and Roman Catholics (and others, such as the Orthodox, the Copts, etc.) believe that by performing certain rites, engaging in various sanctioned activities, individuals are able to actually please God.

Do you grasp how such a view elevates man, while at the same time lowers God to being within man’s reach? Thus, the sinfulness of sin is either completely ignored, such as with Hindus, Buddhists and secular humanists, or it is minimized, such as with Muslims and Roman Catholics, to being something that can be dealt with by the individual. May I show you a couple of verses in God’s Word that speak to two issues that none of the branches of the false religion, the first religion, the religion of the Devil’s devising, can address? A few more comments before we turn to God’s Word.

Because the first religion is a false religion, and was devised by the Devil, it has two characteristics that give it away as false: First, whatever is accomplished in the false religion is accomplished by men. Men have to observe. Men have to comply. Men have to somehow do, either on a prayer rug five times a day or in a confessional. They have to acquire righteousness (to use Biblical terminology) by some means of obedience or compliance, some ritual that is performed. In one way or the other Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, secular humanism, and Roman Catholicism teaches that by means of obedience or compliance of some type, keeping certain rules if you will, deliverance as they understand it is thereby achieved. Note that this takes time. Since it takes time, one might reasonably ask how much of what is required must be accomplished for deliverance to be realized? What if you die at the outset, at the beginning? What if you die half way through whatever it is one is supposed to do? What if you meet with an accident with only 5% of your obligation remaining? What then? Is it tough luck Charlie, or are you okay? The second characteristic of the false religion that gives it away as false has to do with the spiritual aspect of every man’s nature. Of course, secular humanists deny that man has a spiritual aspect to his nature, therefore by default they admit that secular humanism meets none of the needs, hungers, and appetites that are completely spiritual in nature. I submit to you that Islam suffers in the same respect since Islam asserts that Allah is completely unknowable, making anything like interaction with him or communion with him utterly impossible, by their own admission. What can be said of Hinduism, Buddhism and Roman Catholicism? Do they possess a spiritual component that meets the spiritual needs of an adherent? They pretend. However, how could it be the case when each of those branches of the false religion is essentially a mechanical, rites-oriented, system that relies on impressive architecture, ornate statuary, incense burning, and gongs, cymbals, and other forms of music to provoke a visual, audible, olfactory response that is a poor substitute for a genuine interaction with the one true and living God based upon His Word and enabled by His Spirit?

Take the late Mother Theresa as a case in point, as evidenced by her own diary released to the public after her death. “Mother Theresa . . . was tormented by a crisis of belief for 50 years, her writings reveal. She wrote on one occasion, ‘In my own soul, I feel the terrible pain of this loss. I feel that God does not want me, that God is not God and that he does not really exist.’”[8] This illustrates what I am referring to, a Roman Catholic on the fast track to sainthood, perhaps the most beloved and admired Roman Catholic of the 20th century, yet having no communion with God, having none of the hungers, appetites, and needs of her soul met within the religious framework of Catholicism. How is this to be explained? It is the first religion, which is false. Man is not high enough, neither is God low enough, for anyone to reach Him.

Turn now, please, to the Song of Solomon 6.3. When you find that verse, please stand for the reading of God’s Word:

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”

Now, please, turn to John 20.27-28:

27     Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

28     And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

The title of this message from God’s Word is “The Immediate Possession Of Christ.” Please take note of two things in connection with the second of the two religions that exist, the true religion, the relationship with God that upholds rather than denies His exalted place as the enthroned sovereign of the universe, holy and glorious beyond comprehension, while sinful man is utterly depraved, dead in trespasses and sins, being neither disposed nor capable of reaching God by any means.[9] Yet God’s Word reveals to us that when His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, left heaven’s glory to be born of a virgin, and then died a sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary before rising from the dead to then be exalted to the Father’s right hand on high, as high as God is and as low as man is, Jesus Christ thereby bridged that great and otherwise impassible gulf that separated sinful men from the God who loved us enough to send His Son. Jesus Christ, my Lord, enthroned as He is in heaven, has made it possible for a sinner to be reconciled to God, with all one’s sins forgiven, with eternal life given, with adoption into the family of God accomplished, the gift of the Spirit of God implanted, and with glory and the presence of the Savior awaiting that one who knows Jesus Christ.

The questions I would like to address this morning are twofold: How long does this transaction take? What indications are there of man’s deepest hungers, appetites, and needs being met when it does happen?

First, CONSIDER DOUBTING THOMAS’ ENCOUNTER WITH THE RISEN SAVIOR

Allow me to read once more just the words spoken by the Savior and then by the Apostle Thomas, the one who had not yet seen the risen Savior, and who was filled with doubt to the point of determined denial. Understanding that no one is a Christian who denies the resurrection of Christ, since the resurrection is central to the saving gospel message, moments before these words were spoken Thomas, though an apostle of Jesus Christ, was an unsaved man:

27     Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

28     And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

For whatever reason, Thomas had not seen the risen Savior on the day of His glorious resurrection as had the others. He had not been with them that morning when the stone was rolled away to reveal an empty tomb, and neither was he present that same evening when the Lord appeared to them again. As well, Thomas was for some reason saddled with a brutal stubbornness and would not receive the testimony of his tried and tested friends, who had no possible reason to deceive or in any way mislead him. When they testified to him, he responded,

“Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”[10]

Eight days passed. The apostles were all once again assembled in a room, with the door to the room being shut, with the tense of the participle used showing the door remained shut.[11] Yet, suddenly, and miraculously, the glorified Lord appeared, saying to them all, “Peace be unto you.”

27     Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

28     And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

How long did it take for Thomas to become a believing, forgiven, quickened, adopted, reconciled to God through faith in Christ, person? A split second? If that long. Thus, not only do we have numerous texts in God’s Word that declare justification to be by faith apart from works of righteousness which we have done,[12] but we have this event recorded in which a Christ denier becomes a Christian in nothing flat.

Had Thomas died before Christ addressed him and offered him His wounds, the man would have split Hell side open. He was as lost as lost can be, a true denier of the faith and of Christ. Yet, but a moment after Christ spoke, saying “be not faithless, but believing,” Thomas instantly both believed to the saving of his wretched soul and also confessed with his mouth, “My Lord and my God.”

Learn a lesson, my friend. Salvation is sudden. Faith in Christ results in immediate deliverance, immediate forgiveness, immediate justification, immediate adoption into the family of God, and the immediate imparting of eternal life. How long does this transaction take? No time at all. However, that is not all. Notice that Thomas owns Christ as his own; “My Lord, and my God.”

Next, CONSIDER THE NATURE OF THE RELATIONSHIP THAT EXISTS WITH THE SAVIOR

For this we look back to the Song of Solomon 6.3, where we read,

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”

The Song of Solomon has been recognized by the Jews as part of their sacred writings, who read this song at Passover, calling it “the Holy of Holies.”[13] Additionally, I am unaware of any objections to its acceptance to the canon of scripture by Christians. The challenge comes when trying to interpret its 117 verses. Not only is it a book that addresses Solomon’s courtship of the Shulamite maiden, his marriage to her, and their married life, but it is commonly believed to serve as a type, an Old Testament picture if you will, of the relationship between the coming Jewish Messiah and the believer in that Messiah, our own Jesus Christ.

With that in mind, we see in 6.3 the existence of something profound, that does not exist in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, secular humanism, or for that matter in Roman Catholicism; an intimate and personal relationship between the Savior and the believer that is portrayed by the intimacy and ownership (if you will) of both parties in the relationship.

We could turn to Ephesians chapter five or Colossians chapter three to see this truth described in the New Testament. As well, we establish the personal relationship of the believer with the Savior throughout the writings of apostles Paul, Peter and John. However, here we read the words of the Shulamite maiden and feel the grip of her passion on our hearts.

Hers is a physical and emotional romance with her beloved that is consummated at the time of their marriage. Notice her considered conviction concerning the relationship she is involved with. She is saying, I am his, but also, he is mine. It is not that way with false religions, even if they do believe in a divine being. They still have no relationship, without personal interaction and the needs, hungers, and appetites of one’s soul being met in any way.

However, with the true religion, with Biblical Christianity, though God is high and lifted up and we are brought so very low by our sinfulness and spiritual deadness, the Savior given to us is real, and personal, and alive; the One who satisfies our longings, feeds our appetites, and meets our deepest and most soulful needs. Not only are we His, but He is mine!

There are spiritual beings that counterfeit this real relationship with Christ, which is why First John 4.1 insists that we “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” The details of that counterfeit experience felt by some in the false religion are best left to another sermon.

However, the point that I seek to make now, and drive home to your mind and heart, is that a counterfeit proves the existence of the genuine and real. False religion proves there is real religion, just as no counterfeit money would exist were it not for the existence of real currency. As well, counterfeit spiritual experience established what God’s Word and Christian testimony has verified for 2,000 years, that real communion with God and His Son Jesus Christ exists.

Therefore, I declare to you, who are lost this morning, that the immediate possession of Jesus Christ is possible. How so? By obeying the gospel and trusting Christ as your personal Savior. Should you come to Christ your eternal and everlasting aloneness will have come to an end. No more will you be spiritual, psychically, and really isolated and alone even when you are surrounded by loved ones. Come to Christ and you will forever have Another with you, the lover of your soul.

How dare I say this? I do not say this. The Lord Jesus Christ said this, in Hebrews 13.5, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Come to Christ, my friend. Come to Christ now. Trust Him to be your very own Savior.



[1] Isaiah 6.1-3

[2] Job 37.22; Psalm 29.4; 93.1; 104.1; Isaiah 2.10

[3] Psalm 40.2

[4] Romans 3.11; 5.6

[5] Ephesians 2.12

[6] Isaiah 59.2

[7] First Timothy 2.5

[9] Ephesians 2.1

[10] John 20.25

[11] Spiros Zodhiates, Editor, The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, (Chattanooga, Tennessee: AMG Publishers, Revised 1991), page 1351.

[12] Romans 4.1-6; 5.1; Ephesians 2.8-9; Titus 3.5

[13] See Historical and Theological Themes from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 940.



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org