Who are we?

The center of the Traditional Anglican Communion; adhering to the Holy Bible (KJV) in all matters of Faith and Doctrine, a strict reliance on the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the Two Creeds, and the Homilies and formularies of the Reformation Church of England.

Verse of the Day

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hymns of the Church – Leaning on the Everlasting Arms– 17 July 2018, Anno Domini(In the Year of our Lord


T
HEeternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deut 33:27)

            God minces no words in relating His Power and His willingness to care for those who belong to Him. This clause of Verse 27 above is terse, simple, and yet full of promise and power. Such strong and simple verses, when combined with God-honoring music, constitute an invincible testimony to those whose very being is centered in God. He will never fail to care for His own; after all, do we not have the promise of the One who bled and died for us: I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee(Heb 13:5)If we COME to Him, He will NEVER LEAVE us or FORSAKE us.  Never is Eternity! We depend upon God's loving care and Providence every day of our lives - more truly, every second. Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.  (Psalm 55:22)His hand sustains our lives moment by moment. God saw in the eternal vapors of the past that no man could be with Him except there be a Savior - and God provided Himself a Lamb for the sacrifice. (Genesis 22:8)And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance forclothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke(Isaiah 59:16-17)This speaks of the Coming of Christ as Redeemer. 

            The words of our hymn today (Leaning on the Everlasting Arms) remind us that in our most desperate sorrows and weakness, we shall not fall from God's protective arms. He keeps them outstretched always to defend us from any fall. And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders.(Deut 26:8)

            Just a few miles south of Chatsworth, Georgia, where my grandmother lived, there is a small rural community of 673 souls named White, Georgia. About four miles north of this sleepy little village is, hidden by a railway overpass from view from the road, an old Methodist Church called Pine Log United Methodist Church. The church was constructed sometime before 1850.  This old church has experienced some vivid testimonies of the work of God in years past. In 1877, an evangelist was conducting revival there. On the last night of the revival, the preacher said, O Lord, I have preached my heart out to these people to no avail. I have besought with pleadings. I have invoked the power of the Holy Ghost, but to no result.. If you will, Lord, reach down your mighty hand and shake this church to its foundations. Suddenly, there was an earthquake that did, indeed, shake the church to its foundations. Reports claim that all attendees were on their knees praying to the Lord for their salvation.....including the preacher.  I have a photo of a large stone out front commemorating this event.

            There was a second stone that commemorated another event that occurred about twelve years later (1889). AJ Showalter, A Dalton (Georgia) businessman and lay minister was preaching another revival at Pine Log Church. He had just come from a revival in Alabama.  While at Pine Log, he received the sad news that the wives of two men of his previous engagement had tragically died. While writing his condolence letter to comfort the two men, this verse came to mind:  The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.It occurred to him that this would be an excellent theme for a hymn. He immediately sat down and wrote the music and the refrain for this wonderful hymn. He then sent it to a famous old friend. Dr. Elisha Hoffman, in Philadelphia to add lyrics and to publish which this famous hymn writer did. I am told that this hymn went around the world in just a short few months without the aid of telephone or radio. It is the only hymn that Showalter wrote, I believe. His old Office Supply business is still at the old location in Dalton, Georgia, but is now called Dalton Office Supply.  I went there with my father often while growing up.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Refrain:
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Refrain

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Refrain

            There is no greater joy or peace than that which comes from the certain knowledge that God is our refuge and strength. We are not left alone to battle the Dark Angel. God is with us with His mighty outstretched Arm. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus(Phil 4:7)

            Where is the Straight Way and the Narrow Way? It is illumined more and more to those who believe and seek Him: O how bright the path grows from day to day, and we have NOTHING to fear as Christ is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brotherWhat have I to dread, what have I to fear, Leaning on the everlasting arms; I have blessed peace with my Lord so near

            There has never been a people more zealously protected and cherished than those of God.  Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.  (Psalm 17:8)The apple of God's eye is that little image that each of us make as a reflection in the very center of the pupil of His eye as He watches over us. He ismy refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust(Psalm 91:2)If we place not our trust in God, who is left to trust? In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge(Prov 14:26)The baby that awakes, terrified, in the dark of night is quickly consoled by his mother's strong arms. The bleating lamb, lost on the mountain ledge, is quickly comforted by the Shepherds strong staff of rescue. God is always near you. Need you fear any gloom of night, or mountain storm? How can a baby not love its mother? How can a lamb not trust its shepherd? How can a Christian not love and trust His Lord and Shepherd even if the foundations of the earth are loosed?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sermon Notes - Seventh Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 15 July 2018, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)



The Seventh Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

L
ORDof all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

F
ORtherein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their
imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1:17-32)

Homosexuality
NOTE: The subject of this sermon covers what would be termed a ‘sorry situation’ in the foothills of the Blue Ridge at the time of my birth there; but I feel the necessity to preach on it and to add as well the missing verses not included in the lectionary since they are essential to convey the depth of meaning to my young people of St. Andrews. These verses were likely omitted out of a modesty that restrained speaking of such matter at the publication of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer Lectionary. The ancient commentators up to Henry and Ryle had little to say on the subject since it was unheard of among citizens of a Christian nation at their time. In fact, I will quote here and excerpt from Jamieson-Faucett- Brown Commentary concerning these missing verses of the lectionary (vs 23-27): 

Professing merely to worship the Creator by means of the creature, they soon came to lose sight of the Creator in the creature. How aggravated is the guilt of the Church of Rome, which, under the same flimsy pretext, does shamelessly what the heathen are here condemned for doing, and with light which the heathen never had! who is blessed for ever! Amen -- By this doxology the apostle instinctively relieves the horror which the penning of such things excited within his breast; an example to such as are called to expose like dishonor done to the blessed God.

Verses 26,27. For this cause God gave them up -- for even their women -- that sex whose priceless jewel and fairest ornament is modesty, and which, when that is once lost, not only becomes more shameless than the other sex, but lives henceforth only to drag the other sex down to its level. did change, &c. -- The practices here referred to, though too abundantly attested by classic authors, cannot be further illustrated, without trenching on things which "ought not to be named among us as become the saints." But observe how vice is here seen consuming and exhausting itself. When the passions, scourged by violent and continued indulgence in natural vices, became impotent to yield the craved enjoyment, resort was had to artificial stimulants by the practice of unnatural and monstrous vices. How early these were in full career, in the history of the world, the case of Sodom affectingly shows; and because of such abominations, centuries after that, the land of Canaan "spued out" its old inhabitants. Long before this chapter was penned, the Lesbians and others throughout refined Greece had been luxuriating in such debasements; and as for the Romans, TACITUS, speaking of the emperor Tiberius, tells us that new words had then to be coined to express the newly invented stimulants to jaded passion. No wonder that, thus sick and dying as was this poor humanity of ours under the highest earthly culture, its many-voiced cry for the balm in Gilead, and the Physician there, "Come over and help us," pierced the hearts of the missionaries of the Cross, and made them "not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ!

Notes for Verse 27 Verse 27. and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet -- alluding to the many physical and moral ways in which, under the righteous government of God, vice was made self-avenging.
   Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
      
During my lifetime, the moral underpinnings of America have been rotted away by wicked men who have taken control of our public schools, social clubs, seminaries, churches and halls of government; and who have no regard at all for moral righteousness, but rather are pursuing a Fabian philosophy that aims at destroying the republican institutions of a nation in order to build it up again with an amoral adherence to globalist doctrine that seeks a drastic reduction in the world’s population through wars, famine, drugs, crime, homosexuality, and abortion among others.

Standing in direct opposition to these evil doers is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. As long as the true Gospel is preached, the plans of these globalists cannot be fully implemented. It is for this reason that even the mention of the Name of Jesus Christ in any forum is so hateful to these social engineers from Marx to Dewey.

I apologize for the need to preach on the topic of homosexuality today, but it is a sin of our day and must be confronted. It is a sorrowful thing to me young ears must be made aware of this terrible abomination at such a tender age.

All civilizations from antiquity have rejected the horrendous sin of homosexuality as a filthy and perverse practice. The United States is the first industrialized nation to openly give dignity of law to the ungodly sin of homosexual and lesbian marriage. Though our children in public schools are being encouraged to either accept, or even indulge, in such a filthy practice, the average life span of 43 years for the practicing homosexual is never mentioned. The morals of our youth are being gradually dissipated. 

            From the very beginning of Creation, Satan’s design has been to mar and destroy that which God has made. He has been quite successful at engineering many different facets of a plan to eliminate the man and woman which God placed in the Garden. His initial phase would be to undermine all moral restraint among youth. Second to decrease the world population to as low a figure as can be accomplished through those sinful practices mentioned earlier such as wars, drugs, famine, abortion, and homosexual marriage. After all, how many of us would be here today if our parents were homosexual, and how many wonderful children are missing from our presents owing to the murder of small innocents in their mother’s womb?

Let us begin by examining God’s will for man given in Genesis:

A
NDGod said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.  (Gen 1:26-28)

            The wording here is extraordinary since God (Elohim) makes reference to Himself in the plural. Elohim is the word for God, and it is given in the irregular Hebrew term meaning a plural-singular. This is the wholeness of the Trinity that speaks here. “Let us..” Note also God created man in His own image – Male and Female! We have a body, soul and spirit. So does God. He was manifested in the flesh by way of His only Begotten Son, Jesus. The soul of man is that which is eternal – either in Heaven or Hell – and symbolizes God. The spirit is like the Holy Spirit that guides our consciences and gives light to our understanding. But in mankind, these are fallen entities due to Adam’s Fall at Eden.

Genesis 28 is an early exposition of the institution of marriage – more fully revealed in Genesis 2:21-25. Biblical marriage is only between one man and one woman. Anything else is a perversion. It prefigures the marriage that exists between Christ and the Church (which is the Body of Christ on earth). “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.(Rev 21:1-2)

            Just as men and women born physically into this world are intended to multiply and bring forth children, so are those who are born anew in the Kingdom of God to reproduce and bring forth disciples.

            The Word of God minces no words in plainly condemning the abomination of homosexuality and the consequences:  Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination (Lev 18:22)  Webster’s dictionary tells us that an abomination is something that is both disgusting and filthy.

But what is the punishment for such sin?

Y
Eshall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any STRANGER TTHAT SOJOURNETH among you: 27 (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) 28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. 29 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. (Lev 18:26-29)NOTE: Even the sojourner in our country must be forbidden to exercise this lifestyle. Additionally, the punishment is given again in Leviticus. 13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them (Lev 20:13)

            Remember the origin of the term ‘sodomy.’ It comes from the name of one of the five cities destroyed by fire and brimstone for the sin of sodomy – the city is SODOM! An account given of its destruction follows:

B
UTbefore they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.     (Gen 19:4-5)

            For our benefit and warning, God mentions the fall of Sodom again in the New Testament: Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.   (Jude 1:7)

Homosexuality is not a regular sin as is lying or stealing. God calls it an abomination – a most cardinal of sins. It is a sin that makes desolate the race that God created: “15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:  (Matt 24:15)Homosexual ministers and even bishop already are standing in the pulpits in America and England. 

Romans 1 reminds us we are not even to take pleasure in those that practice such things particularly, I believe, in entertainment programs. Today’s humor may be tomorrow’s curse.

How should the church view a man or woman who enters the church sanctuary as a practicing homosexual? I do not believe we should shun such sinners, for we were all lost in sin ere being called and chosen of God. We should treat them with love and respect, teaching them tactfully and compassionately of the errors of their sin. This accords favorably with the counsel given by Paul:

K
NOWye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.   (1 Cor 6:9-11)

            Some of us were thieves, liars, adulterers, drunkards, extortioners, and, yes, even homosexuals, before our eyes and hearts were opened by the intercession of the Holy Ghost.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Bible, God’s Word to Man - a Devotion for 13 July 2018, Anno Domini

 
T
HEwords of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
(Psalm 12:5-7)
F
ORall flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
(1 Peter 1:24-25)

            We should never be deceived by the profusion of man-made bibles being commercially pushed upon us in our day by book publishers and even denominations. The NIV, the ESV, and the RSV are all productions of deception made not only for profit, but for deliberate deception to bring the Church under the globalist agenda of one-world church. That church will be one devoid of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and only Begotten Son of God. If Christ can be omitted from our worship and doctrine, anything goes insofar as union with every depraved religion on the face of the earth; because Jesus keeps getting in the way of the one-world religion.

            I have excerpted the first lesson from the work, BIBLE LITERATURE, An Introductory View of the Bible and its Books for the General Reader, And Sixth Grade Text-Book for Schools and Colleges, by JOHN A. W. HAAS, DD – a Lutheran publication of 1906. Such teaching of the Bible was perfectly acceptable at a time nearer the days of the Founders when men yet remembered the intentions of those great men who heard the leading of God in our Founding. Below is the introductory chapter of the book -  reformatted for Word, and Bible verses added as supporting documentation:

The Bible, God's Word to man, records revelation and its history. It is itself, as such record, also revelation. A light unto our feet, it directs ; quick and powerful, it discerns our very thoughts to show us our sins. It is the power of God unto salvation, as we search it to find Christ, of whom it everywhere testifies.

Contents
This wonderful Book of books is a whole library of literature. It contains stately prose and forceful poetry. Simple stories and annals of history, plain narratives and descriptions of dramatic power, lyrics and orations are found in it. The literature of a nation, covering thousands of years, has come to classic expression within its covers. The record of the rise of Christianity, the faith of faiths, is preserved in memoirs and letters, written within the space of about fifty years.

Unity
But despite this diversity of the books of the Bible, and their difference in time, style, character and language, there is a wonderful unity, which makes the Bible one Book. The Old Testament is the truth in development and preparation for the New Testament. The New Testament is the book of fulfillment in Christ. But the Old Testament agrees in purpose and aim with the highest thought of the New Testament.

Inspiration
This unity is due to the divine Spirit, who moved the holy men of God to write, and who, in the progress of the history of Israel, shows the need and, with increasing light, the coming of the great Saviour.

The New Testament contains the picture of the Savior. The four gospels are the historical Memoirs of Jesus. The Acts report the beginnings of the history of the Church. In the epistles are unfolded the doctrines of the life of the Christian. The Apocalypse is the prophetic outlook of the Church.

Historically, and in order to note the development of revelation, the Old Testament ought to precede. The New Testament, however, lies nearer to our Christian life and presents the centre and aim of all revelation in Christ Jesus. When we know this aim, we can see more clearly the Old Testament approach to it.

Practical Lessons
1. The Bible is God's clear and powerful word to man. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.(Psalm 119:130)

2. It was written in various forms by holy men. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost(2 Peter 1:21)

3. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, it is one. (2 Peter 1:21)

4. Christ is the centre of it. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4)

5. He is proclaimed in history, doctrine and prophecy. O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.  (Luke 24:25-27)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Death and Life of Christ - a Devotion for 12 July 2018, Anno Domini



            We are told in the Gospel of Saint John, Chapter 10, our Lord Jesus Christ is the DOOR – but DOOR to what? He is the DOOR to eternal life just as surely as the door of the Ark of Noah was the door to the natural life of all living. The fact is, only 8 souls entered that door. That was a great minority of the thousands and millions then living. In order to pass through that DOOR of the Lord, we must come to that DOOR. We must be recognized by the KEEPER of the DOOR (Christ). There is no other way than that Way, Truth and Life which He is.

            Christ found it an absolute necessity, in order redeem us, to make that DOOR available to us at the cost of a great Sacrifice. Noah labored for 100 years in the building of the Ark amid scorn and ridicule of the lost multitudes. Christ labored amid the same scorn and ridicule of the Jewish rulers, Scribes, and Pharisees prior to His passion on Golgotha. The door of Noah’s Ark opened the way to a temporal life of finite duration in the new world. The DOOR of Christ opens the door for all elect into the Kingdom of God with eternal duration.  While Noah suffered solitude and the winds of the unknown for more than one year aboard the Ark, our Lord suffered 40 days in the Wilderness in far greater want than Noah ever experienced. He suffered the years of His ministry healing the desperately sick and afflicted, raising the dead, restoring sight, and restoring the leper. He at last suffered a awful torture and beating at the hands of the Romans by being stripped, beaten with a cat-of-nine-tails to near death, had a crown of thorns averaging more than one inch each in length, carried a heavy and rough-cut cross of wood from the court of Pontius Pilate to the Hill beyond the gates of Jerusalem to the hill of Mt. Calvary. He suffered, through the heat of the day, thirst, hunger, unbelievable pain, shame at all who ogled His nakedness, and the sundry miseries of one who suffers from an ability to freely breathe in oxygen to sustain life without stiffening his feet and nail-pierced hands in order to make sufficient space for the expansion of His lungs. He finally gave up the ghost as a result of congestive heart failure. His side was pierced by a Roman lance, and He was buried in a buried tomb. He did all of that for you and me. 

            Through all of these events, and not only these but those from the eternities from before the foundation of the world He continued all the while to be the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. He has eternally been so, is now, and forever shall be. That WAY took Jesus through His ministry to the cross, through the events of crucifixion, to the grave, to resurrection, and finally to the ascension. He is THE WAY for us. We have a course set before us. It may take us through many sufferings and hardships. It may result in our being ridiculed for our faith. It may result in our suffering the rejection of friends and family. It may even lead to our suffering death by beheadings, burnings, and deprivation by the evil demons of Satan abroad in our world today even under the guise of some satanic or false religion. We must take up our cross daily and follow Christ – wherever those footprints lead us. We will have peace and joy in our hearts in spite of the external hardships we may face because we have an assurance from Him that He is with us always.

            Christ suffered for sins once, the Righteous for the unrighteous.  Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God(1 Peter 1:18-21)

            Our Lord left to us His last Will and Testament. For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom(Matt 26:28-29)A Will is not effective until the death of the one who executes a Will.  So, Jesus died in order that His called and chosen could inherit that eternal life that He has made available to us through His death. But not only His death, but also His resurrection and ascension. His elect shall enjoy those privileges by right of the children’s inheritance.

See how comprehensive and eternally beneficial is the Way of Christ. His character and purpose, His coming and ministry, His death and resurrection – all are illustrated and prophesied in the Old Testament. He is the executive agent at Creation. He laid the foundations of the world, breathed life into our nostrils, and has prepared a Way for us. But that work began before the worlds were formed. He was sadly prefigured by the sorrowful death of beautiful and innocent creature in the Garden to cover the nakedness (sin) of Adam and Eve. 

            His role in our salvation was illustrated in all of the Tabernacle and Temple sacrifices of old. Even at the present day, He sits at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us. He is our ONLY intercessor. Neither the saints, nor Mary, nor and minister can intercede – He is the only One who is worthy and able to do so; and yet the fact that the Death of Christ is the ground of forgiveness, may be so certain to us as to be a great power in life." As we think of the work of Christ on the cross in the broad outline of its comprehensiveness, it may be grouped under the following seven points

            I submit a section from Pearls, Points and Parables by F.E. Marsh:

 (1) The Death of Christ is Generative in its Life. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone : but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit'.” (John 12:24). "The Son of Man must be lifted up" (John 3:13). His death was a necessity; hence, the meaning and force of His "must," for had He not gone down into the dust of death, He would not have been able to communicate to us His life. His death is our life.

 (2) The Death of Christ is Substitutive in its Work. Christ's own statement about the fact of His substitutionary work is conclusive and final. He says, in speaking of the great purpose for which He came into the world, that it was "to give His life a ransom for many(Matthew 20:28). Dean Alford says of these words, they are "a plain declaration of the sacrificial and vicarious nature of the death of our Lord." 

           (3) The Death of Christ is Protective in its Grace. "Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thessalonians 1:10). "We shall be saved from wrath through Him"(Romans 5:9). "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” (1 Thess 5:9-10)

In these verses there is an impending doom hanging over the sinner, which is averted through the action of Another. Mark the sentence, "Through our Lord Jesus Christ." The sense of the "through" is "by means of" Him. How? Because the stroke of Jehovah has fallen upon Him, as we read in Isa.53:8: "For the transgression of My people was the stroke upon Him" (margin).

          (4) The Death of Christ is Inductive in its Blessing. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18)

He died to save us from hell and bring us to heaven ; but what is of even greater moment He died to bring us "to God;" Yet there is more than introduction, there is induction, namely, bringing us to God and making us His children. Christ, in bringing us to God, brings us into the relationship of children, with all its privileges and responsibilities, and a great deal more.

         (5) The Death of Christ is Formative in its Power. The Holy Spirit, in speaking of the believer being baptised into the death of Christ, speaks of it as that "Form of doctrine." “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” (Romans 6:17) The figure is that of a mould into which the metal runs and is shaped by it. The heart and life of the child of God are to be formed by the death of Christ. The death of the cross is to be the death of sin; and its munificent giving, its holy sacrifice, its Divine passion, its devoted service, its patient suffering, its self-effacement, and its God-glorifying spirit are to be ours.

6) The Death of Christ is Inspirative in its Motive. The apostle, in speaking of the power which moved him in his life's service for Christ, says "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:18-19)It was not love in a general sense which moved him, but the love as expressed in the death of His Lord. The fire which ignited his being was got from the altar of Christ's sacrifice.

 (7) The Death of Christ is Procurative in its claim. The price which the Lord paid in order that He might procure us for Himself was the shedding of His precious blood. The price of His purchase is the right by which He claims us for Himself. "Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's(1 Cor. 6:19, 20). The claim of His call upon the whole of our nature is based upon the purchased price He gave for us in His death. 

Sin has inoculated all mankind with its poison; but through identification with Christ's atonement, He, by the vitality of that death, transmits His life to us, and counteracts the virus. Our disease of sin requires a blood transfusion of the Blood of Christ

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Lines of Authority - a Devotion for 11 July 2018, Anno Domini



In this world into which God has placed us, there are a variety of lines of authority with which we must comply. There is the Supreme Law of God which is the Sovereign Law above every other law and which has no hint of ambiguity. There is also parental law which is the elementary law of our parents to us in childhood. There is the institutional law of governments which often bear the marks of human frailty to accomplish pure justice. And there is church law, often referred to ecclesiastical law, and in the Anglican church, episcopal law of church government. 

            All the above laws come with a ‘line of descending authority;’ and all are subject to error except the first which is God’s Immutable Law.

            In our daily lives, we encounter these laws which are intended to benefit the obedient by putting in good order the proper disposition of human life. Obedience to God’s Law will always lead to a more perfect government because His Law is perfect.

            Let us examine these four facets of law in order of importance.

God’s Immutable Law
God’s Law is always sovereign over any manmade, or man-legislated law. It is the Supreme Law of the Land of the Kingdom of God. Any subordinate law, whether parental, governmental, or ecclesiastical must conform to the Law of God else we cannot be righteous in obedience thereto. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. (Psalm 118:9)  We ought to obey God rather than men.  Acts 5:29 (KJV) There is no law above that, or equal to that, of God Almighty. When parents dispute God’s Law, it is still the duty of the child to obey God’s Law. Doing so does not dishonor the father or mother but rather honors them in ways unknown to them in having a Godly child. When governments abrogate their instituted duty before God and enact laws that are abhorrent to the Law of God, those laws must not be honored by the Christian believer of the Church. Examples of such laws abhorrent to the Law of God would be the sin of sodomy (homosexuality) and abortion (the termination of innocent lives conceived by the gift of God) or murder! 

God’s Law has not been done away with by the sacrifice of Christ – it’s penalty rather has been satisfied by that sacrifice for those who are His called and chosen elect people. Christ did not redeem us by abrogating or nullifying the Law, but by paying the penalty under the very terms provided in God’s Law. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)This is a death sentence for all sinners since the penalty is death and must be paid by One who is qualified to be a propitiation for our sins by being without blemish or sin. That Person is the Lord Jesus Christ. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 6:23)Remember: God’s Law is Supreme above every other law.

Parental Law
            This law is second in importance to the first in that it is the only law of which we know anything about when we are born helpless, bawling and screaming, into the world. Our parents are those to whom our very existence depends. The human is one of the few creatures born completely helpless to do anything for itself. God has perhaps intended this so that we could learn that God is our Great Parent upon whom we must trust and upon whom our very existence depends. We at first take our parents for granted. We cry and scream for milk, for comfort, and for attention. No baby is born loving its parents – it doesn’t even know its parents. It only knows when it makes enough of a fuss that two hands magically appear to cradle or comfort it. As the baby grows into a child, it learns that its parents are important people to it. It begins to learn to speak, to crawl, to walk – all at the teaching and assistance of the parents. The child begins to know that its existence depends upon the good favor of the parents. Fear of parents is a beginning of love just as fear of God is a beginning of Godly wisdom. God gave us parents so that we could know that there is someone greater than us upon whom we MUST depend. 

            As we grow into our teen years, we have grown stronger and more self-reliant. We may even begin to believe that we know it all, and our parents are quite backward. Though our parents have lived a couple or more decades longer than us, we presume that we have learned more in a short space than they have learned all those years of life experiences. After many grave errors in judgment and even close calls with the angel of death, we begin to see the logic of our parents’ counsel. Their love and counsel grow enormously in our minds. Our love is fed by the knowledge of all that they have sacrificed for us in love, sacrifice, and patience. We begin to respond with a deeper and broader respect for our parents We may at first be drawn to obey them out of pure fear of retribution; but then by a greater fear of bringing shame and dishonor upon them. The same is true for the newly converted Christian. We may at first be drawn by inordinate fear of the Judgment; but then, as we learn of the love of our Lord more and more, we are imbued with the same fear of displeasing or dishonoring the One who died for us. “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Ex 20:12 (KJV) This Commandment is the fifth, and it is positioned intentionally between the duty we owe to God and the duty we owe to our fellow man. It is a transition Commandment between God and man since God is also our Father whom we must honor.

Civil Law and Authority 
            Though I refer to this topic as Civil, it is intended to cover the broad spectrum of manmade law from civil to criminal. On the Lord’s Table of the Reformation Church of England, we find three symbols of God’s Law and Gospel. We have two candlesticks on either side of the center of the Table. The Candlestick on the right (facing out) is the Gospel Candle representing the Light of Christ’s Gospel going forth to lighten the darkness. The Candlestick on the left represents the teaching of the Apostles going forth to lighten the darkness. This Candle is subordinate to the first and is intended to simply further express the teaching of the Word of the Gospel. At center (behind the Lord’s Table) is the Ten Commandments reaffirming that God’s Law is immutable and unchanging. Forward of these three symbols of Law (for the Gospel is the Law of Love), is the Cross. The Cross is a symbol of God’s redeeming love in the sacrifice of His only Begotten Son. Christ is not displayed on that Cross because He is risen. 

            The Founders of the American Republic (not democracy) were guided by the Hand of God to establish three branches of government. In a Republic, every law applies, without exception, to every citizen equally. They drew up a bible for governance called the U.S. Constitution. That instrument is the Supreme Law of the Land, but not of equal weight with God’s Law. The Founders also established the right of trial by a jury of one’s peers comprised of twelve members – much as the twelve Apostles who sit in judgment of the Kingdom of God.  We owe loyalty, obedience and honor to this civil authority granted us by God. But when that government tramples upon the Constitution and her citizens, it is no longer acting upon that mandate given by God at her founding. UnGodly laws are not binding on Godly men. In this form of Constitutional government, there is also a hierarchy of law. Since all power descend from God, the Sovereign Law, whether recognized or not, is the Law of God. Then we have the President, the Congress, and the Supreme Court. Under these is an array of state, county, and municipal governments all of whom are subordinate to the Federal government, but only within the limits of power granted by the Constitution to that Federal government. So, law begins at the very top and descends to the lowest unit of government. From God Himself down to the last man or woman standing.

Church Government
            Like any great business enterprise which has a Chief Executive Officer (or business owner), with subordinate department directors, managers, and foremen to insure the business operates smoothly; so the Church has bishops, priests, deacons, teachers, administrators and other subordinate staff to insure that the Church labors are conducted in good order. Every person has a great responsibility to God to see that their responsibilities and duties are performed in a dedicated and efficient manner. No one is of greater worth than another, but some have greater responsibility and authority than some others. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesyaccording to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord   (Romans 12:4-11)

            The Shepherd and Bishop of the Church is our Lord Jesus Christ. Bishops in the Church are under-shepherds whose responsibility it is to insure biblical doctrine is adhered to and no excesses practiced. If they fail that duty, they are not worthy of their stations as bishops. The tongue is not more important then the ear, and the ear of no greater importance than the eye; but all must function efficiently for a wholesome body and ability to perform the body’s duties and functions. If a brick falls on the toe, it is not only the toe that is affected, but the whole body. So, each is a cog in the machinery of advancing the Gospel to the glory of Christ. Whoever has a position of authority in the Church must exercise that authority with patience, love, and wisdom. Likewise, the person under authority of another in Church must be responsive to the leadership under which he works. Without this principle, chaos is the result. Let all things be done decently and in order.  (1 Cor 14:40)

God Provides the Summary of All
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (Romans 13:1-5)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Devotion on Hymns of the Church - Hymn 523 - God the Omnipotent – 10 July 2018, Anno Domini(In the Year of our Lord)


H
that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee(Psalm 91:1-7)

            Many of us pay lip-service to the almighty power of God, but we do so flippantly and without serious thought until that great power is needful to rescue us from our many self-created dangers. We then fall on our knees and plead for mercy when we should have prayed sooner for wisdom. 

            Today’s hymn is truly a classic hymn derived from both classic language and matched with a classic musical score. What makes a work of art of canvas or of music classical? It is the enduring quality of the work that raises the soul of man across all ages of time. Not much good is said in our day of the moral qualities of the great composers of the past. Au contraire, much is said to demean their character; but listen to the words that young Beethoven (he was ALWAYS young for he died at a young age) wrote in his dairy as he approached the near banks of Jordan Waters. He had gone deaf – a terrible affliction for a musician – in his last ten years of life - and wrote these words: “O God, give me strength to overcome myself; nothing must hold me to this life.” In 1821, three years before his death, Beethoven wrote to a friend: “God, who knows my innermost soul, and knows how sacredly I have fulfilled all the duties put upon me as a man by humanity, God, and nature, will surely someday relieve me from these afflictions.” I only give Beethoven’s remarks as an example of the souls that were behind our classical works of the past. Today’s hymn is based on a classic Russian tune (called ‘Russia’). The words are an old Russian Hymn, “Help us O God!” It has a meaningful application to the history of Russian at the time of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia during the War of 1812.

            In 1812, Russia was a land destitute of the wealth of Western Europe. The peasantry that inhabited the heartland between Moscow and the western frontier of Russia were extremely poor, uneducated, and defenseless – but they had faith. When the Russian Czar renounced the Continental System (an economic system of Napoleon’s own doing), the French Emperor decided to invade Russia. He felt the land would be an easy prey to his army of far superior numbers, resources, and experience. He deployed the largest land army known to that time (more than 450,000) along a north-south axis of 800 miles using the Nieman River of the western Russian frontier to define his point of invasion. Russia lay as an almost defenseless virgin before the giants of Europe allied with France. The only hope of the Russian people was in God. Advancing against the rag-tag forces of the Czar, Napoleon seemed to be accomplishing his goal. Reaching the outskirts of Moscow in early Fall, he encountered the last major Russian army that stood between him and Moscow at Borodino, which he won. Marching into Moscow, Napoleon was dismayed to find the city in ashes and the last remnants burning to the ground. With no provision or shelter for the cold Russian winter, Napoleon retreated on 8 December 1812, with a mere 10,000 troops left of the Grande Armee of 450,000. God had saved Russia, and the Russian people KNEW it.

            In 1880, Petr Tchaikovsky was requested by the Czar Alexander I to compose a piece suitable for the consecration of the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior at St, Petersburg. Tchaikovsky wrote the famous Overture of 1812 to commemorate the occasion. This overture tells the story of Napoleon’s invasion and how God miraculously saved a nearly defenseless nation. It begins with very subtle notes of the Russian anthem, builds to a crescendo as Napoleon crosses the Nieman River into Russia. The music is lively and descriptive of the cavalry sorties of Napoleon scouting out the Russian defenses. The overture is interspersed with the French Marseilles and mild notes of the Russian anthem. But when Napoleon is driven from Moscow, the meter picks up with the stirring notes of “God the Omnipotent” intermingled with live cannon fire and the church bells of the Orthodox Churches of Moscow ringing in triumphant victory and praise to God.

God the Omnipotent!

God the Omnipotent! King who ordainest
thunder thy clarion, the lightning thy sword;
show forth thy pity on high where thou reignest:
give to us peace in our time, O Lord.

God the All-merciful! Earth hath forsaken
thy ways all holy, and slighted thy word;
bid not thy wrath in its terrors awaken:
give to us peace in our time, O Lord.

God, the All-righteous One! Earth hath deified thee;
yet to eternity standeth thy word,
falsehood and wrong shall not tarry beside thee:
give to us peace in our time, O Lord.

God the All-provident! earth by thy chastening
yet shall to freedom and truth be restored;
through the thick darkness thy kingdom is hastening:
thou wilt give peace in our time, O Lord. 

            There are four main qualities of God proclaimed in the four stanzas of this great hymn whose words were of the composition of Henry Chorley and music by Lvov:

God is Omnipotent! 
He is all Powerful and nothing can stand against Him in Battle or in Peace. Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled. The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.  And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.  And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils. He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters;  He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me(2 Sam 22:13-18)He is the invincible King who ordains the fate of men and armies. 

God is All-Merciful
He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed(Psalm 37:26)The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy(Psalm 103:8)Mercy is never deserved by the repentant sinner, and never refused by the All-Merciful Lord. Though the earth has forsaken God, God has not forsaken His Elect. He is patient and long-suffering. He will redeem the righteous of the Lord in due time, but declare a heavy judgment upon those who have rejected His only Begotten son.

God is All-Righteous
There is not a single sin that can be ascribed to our Maker. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin(Heb 4:15)God is Holy and commands us to be of the same nature to Him. And the Word of God, personified by the Lord Jesus Christ, shall stand forever immutable. God will not abide falsehood or lies. The liar and the corrupt politician will, alike, go into the pits of fire at judgment. 

God is All-Provident
Not only Omnipotent, but also Omniscient. He knows all things both hidden and revealed, and all tings past, present, and future – even the thoughts of our hearts. Not abiding lies and deceit, the world will be cleansed of these maladies of Adam and be restored to freedom and justice by the Hand of the Almighty! The Kingdom of God is hastening even from the darkness and shadows of our unknowing to its fulfillment in due course. The Invisible Hand of God has purpose and rationale in all that He does though we may not, at present, comprehend.

            This is one of the most rousing hymns I have ever heard. It forces me to stand up when it is sung or played. It accelerates the blood flow in my veins and prompts me to draw my saber and confront the enemy of our souls and of our God. God is able to save when the cause seems hopeless to man just as He saved Russia, and Gideon’s Army. God not only saves armies, but even more importantly, He is able to save to the uttermost the people who are numbered among His Elect. 

Do you know this Omnipotent, All-Merciful, All-Righteous, and All-Provident Lord? 

If you do not meet Him in this life as Savior, you will meet Him in the resurrection of the dead as Judge.