A Study of Luke 9:30-31

“And, behold, there talked with Him two men, which were Moses and Elias: who appeared in glory, and spake of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem.”
(Luke 9:30-31)

Later, John would reference back to this most glorious event, saying, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14.

What an awesome subject!

What an awesome event!

How glorious such a moment!

The Holy Spirit did not give us the entire conversation the Lord, Moses, and Elias discoursed upon. He gave to us only what is sufficient for our comfort and consolation: “His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem.”

The event would stagger the credibility of philosophers throughout all time to come!

Tease the natural “faith” of unbelievers; provoke mocking Ishmaelites among Christian communities; and defy the natural “Christian religion” of nominal religionists in all ages to come.

How astounding – that a man discuss with men long occupants of glory of what He would accomplish by His own death!

The subject of discussion is more than natural religionists are able to enter into; but the mysterious appearing of Moses, representing the only Law given to a nation by God, and Elias, representing all the prophets of Israel hitherto prophesying of the advent of the great Messiah is enough to stagger one’s mind!

What shall theologians and philosophers conclude from this reported event? – that it never took place! That it is folk-tales of unlearned and superstitious Christians in the first century! There is no way such an event could have taken place: Jesus, the carpenter’s son talking directly with the dead! With none else but the great Jewish law-giver and renown prophet!

But enter into the subject matter of that truly great revelation, and even professing Christians find it inconceivable.

Who ever heard of an accomplished salvation before?

How could it have been accomplished for all times, nations, and peoples at Jerusalem in the first century?

The ramifications of such an event would destroy all evangelistic fervor completely!

If salvation was indeed fully accomplished on the cross two thousand years ago, then why preach the Gospel?

Why should one make a decision for Christ; or let Jesus into his heart?

Such a principle would have to be antinomianism – hyper-calvinism; or worse, – hardshellism! Pure fatalism!

No, the translators made a big blunder: there is something men have to do in order to “get saved.” Everybody knows that! Such is their conclusions, but certainly not ours!

In spite of the incredulous text, it is a recorded truth, by all the apostles that left us a written record, that Jesus did in fact, accomplish salvation by His obedience unto death, His sufferings, burial, and bodily resurrection from the dead – each of which is as much incredible as the event on that mountain top that day, two thousand years ago! No wonder poets and sages have spoken frequently of a “finished salvation.”

As Jonathan Evans (1748-1809) penned long ago: [The tune is a Particular Meter, and may be sung to Roy Acuff’s “Life is like a mountain railroad”.]

“Hark the voice of love and mercy
Sounds aloud from Calvary-

See, it rends the rocks asunder,
Shakes the earth, and veils the sky!

It is finished, it is finished, repeat line
Hear the dying Savior cry.

“It is finished”, O what pleasure
Do these charming word afford!

Heavenly blessings without measure;
Flow to us from Christ the Lord;

It is finished, it is finished,
Saints the dying words record.

Finished all the types and shadows
Of the ceremonial law-

Finished all that God had promised;
Death and hell no more shall awe;

It is finished, it is finished,
Saints, from hence your comfort draw.

Happy souls, approach the table,
Taste the soul-reviving food;

Nothing half so sweet and pleasant
As the Savior’s flesh and blood.

It is finished, it is finished
Christ has borne the heavy load.”

Tune your harps anew, ye seraphs-
Join to sing the pleasing theme;

All on earth, and all in heaven,
Join to praise Emmanuel’s name

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Glory to the bleeding Lamb.”

The hymn alone is edifying in its exaltation of our dear and precious Redeemer God. The angelic harbinger announced to poor doubting, mentally stressed Joseph that he should not put away Mary, his wife, for “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son [And she did!] and thou shalt call His name Jesus [and he did!]; for He shall save His people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:23.

Seeing that the angel told the truth on the first two criteria, can it be doubted that He would fail on the third, and the most profound of the three predictions?

In other words, Did He save His people from their sins?

If HE did, then of necessity it had to have been in His active and passive obedience culminating with His death on the cross “at Jerusalem,” and the consequent burial and bodily resurrection following. The last utterance of the dear Savior was consistent with the discourse with Moses and Elias, and that of the angelic annunciation. He having received the vinegar, said, “It is finished,” as the hymn writer reported above.

What was finished?

What He was to accomplish at Jerusalem by His death. More precisely, as He said earlier, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” – John 6:38-40

Ah, dear trembling believer, what wondrous words and work is this!

A finished and an accomplished eternal salvation, applied in time, and resulting in the resurrection of His own generation.

No wonder, “He shall declare His generation,” and prolong His days until the ultimate sacrifice is received by His Holy Father as a propitiation of their sins!

Speculative volumes are written by philosophers and such as specialize in Christian doctrine – theologians, and “the half has never yet been told!” To that poor sinner, who the blessed Spirit has opened his blind eyes to see himself as he really is in the vulgarity and depravity of the natural fleshly and fallen creation; and the view of the remedy withheld for a time until the lesson is truly learned feelingly, and he made to cry out in alarm for the sweet mercies of God, no theory, no thesis can magnify so sharply as that gracious skilled Physician, while He is circumcising that corrupt heart, and trying him as gold is refined.

The poor soul may frequently wonder aloud, “How can He have mercy on such as I.” It appears His own holiness is set against any hope of mercy tendered. Yet, the work is no longer set before Him; it is long since accomplished:

“It is finished!”
(John 19:30)

“I am come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
(Luke 15:14)

If one gives serious consideration to that purpose, it is equally astounding. Who would ever guess that God would pass by the rich, the famous, the righteous, the noble, and consort with publicans and sinners!

The greatest of the theologians miss that point. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) The healthy have no need of the physician, but the sick, the lame, the infirmed all are seeking parking lots around the medical centers! Around the Gospel pool.

“Beside the Gospel pool,
Appointed for the poor,

From time to time my helpless soul
Has waited for a cure.

How often have I seen
The healing waters move,

And others round me, stepping in,
Their efficacy prove!

But my complaint remain,
I feel the very same;

As full of guilt, and fear, and pain
As when at first I came.

O would the Lord appear,
My malady to heal!

He knows how long I’ve languished here,
And what distress I feel.

Here then, from day to day,
I’ll wait, and hope, and try;

Can Jesus hear a sinner pray,
Yet suffer him to die?

No, He is full of grace;
He never will permit

A soul that fain would see His face,
To perish at His feet.”

Others than I have seen that God’s dealings with His children are varied: some’s trials in passing from death unto life seem much easier than others. Some wait long, and wrestle with sin, their depravity, almost without much hope, until the Lord brings the living babe to birth – to see the light of His merciful countenance.

Maybe He need prepare each for different places in His kingdom and church; some are forgiven much, while some (in the eyes of men) so little, and some have enormous warfares raging within much of their life. But whither little or great, the Lord delivers all of His children in the appointed time, because He has already accomplished their salvation by His own suffering and death in their stead.

Have you noticed the many words describing what Christ has done for His children, and noticed an “ed” on the end of each?

A past-tense salvation.

He ransomed us; He redeemed us; He reconciled us; He saved us; He washed us, He sanctified us.

So important to notice if one is to squeeze the honey out of the Rock!

What sweetness is found in that!

It is the real basis for the believer’s eternal security.

I am reminded of something I long ago notices as I visited and explored various religions. One of the “five points,” is the “perseverance and preservation of the saints,” or “once saved, always saved.” Another phrase for it is “eternal security.” A Landmark Baptists told me that Southern Baptists were “Liquor Baptists.” After he left the pulpit, I told him that where I grew up, alcohol was a “no no” for Southern Baptists. What did you mean? He answered, they hold to a “fifth” of Calvinism!

The Freewill pastor near one of our churches was friendly with us (deceased with cancer recently), and he and his church held to “perseverance of the saints,” but not “preservation by grace unto glory.” His son was a deacon in a Southern Baptist church, and he held to “preservation” but not “perseverance.” I have heard Primitive Baptist stress the fact that they held to preservation, but “do not hold to perseverance.” The Predestinarian Old School Baptists hold to both!

God so works in His people both “to will and to do of His good pleasure,” and has “wrought all our works in us,” that the “righteous shall hold on His way” – persevere to the end, because he “is kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” For our churches, congregations, and members, it is important to be found in “perseverance” because godly deportment crowns the work of God; it adorns his calling, and is an evidence of his gracious estate. It is also giving glory to God for the finished salvation, as well as the applied aspect of it, to give all the credit – the glory – unto God who is both the author and the finisher of our salvation.

He alone is the Savior of sinners.

By Stanley C. Phillips

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