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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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Devotion on the Book of Malachi (Part Six, Chapter Two vs. 14-17) - 31 October 2013, Anno Domini (Reformation Day)


14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. 15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. 16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. 17 Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment? (Mal 2:14-17)

            The Church in England had sunk into a morass of apostate beliefs and superstitions ere the Morning Star of the Reformation arose on the eastern skies of God's Heaven - the great lover of God's Holy word: John Wycliffe! The Church had gone through the early days of persecution, the Dark Ages, and now was marred down bureaucratic greed and spiritual darkness, but the Light breaks forth in the heart of an Englishman and scatters the darkness in its unconquerable beams.  This same darkness has settle on the Old Testament Church of Malachi's day. God would provide no other prophet to His apostate people for some five hundred more years because, first of all, they did not hear the prophets, and, secondly, they did not heed their warnings. Has such a time overtaken the Church in our day. Are we not, once again, immersed in great error and apostasy? Have we not forgotten the words of the prophets and the apostles....indeed, of Jesus Himself? See how the sexual perversions of  homosexuality and unfaithfulness have become merely alternate lifestyles in the fallen churches around the world! Malachi speaks to us today of the high regard in which God holds the estate of Holy Matrimony and how we have profaned it with vulgar notions.

            The prophet Malachi has just accused the people of abandoning their first loves (women of Judea) and gone whoring after strange flesh - women who know not the true God of Israel, or perhaps even more abominable - lusting after other men! The love of their youth has been left to wither alone and without the benefit of her husband for whom she has given all that life can give. It is also true of the Church today. The Church has abandoned her First Love and gone whoring after other gods. We honor Christ with our lips, but our hearts are far from Him. The disobedient lack the slightest discernment to know their sins even when told. That is the way of the sinner. If they sin callously enough, sin will become righteousness to them.

            14 "Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant." Have you ever prayed such nonsense as "IF I have sinned, Lord, please forgive me?" But of course you have SINNED!. confess them with all of the precise memory you can muster. Of course, it is true that we often sin so wantonly and profusely that we may honestly forget the magnitude and number of our sins. The Men of Judea wonder how they have deserted their wives? All of the acts of infidelity of the men of Judah have not gone unnoticed by the All-Seeing Eye of the Lord. " Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth." These men may have wondered how the Lord was witness to their sins? His eye knows not barrier. He looks into every heart - righteous or no - and the sinner stands naked before Him without excuse. The dark shadows did not conceal the adulterous conduct of these men. God does not look upon our daylight countenance, but under our midnight covers. . . . .  for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." (1 Sam 16:7) Just because of the unfaithfulness of man's heart in abandoning his true wife does not mean that the Lord accepts the division of abandonment and divorce. " . . . yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant." How many men of our day have taken vows of fidelity before God and man to remain faithful to their brides only to renounce their vows by foolish actions later?

            In our day of profligate sin and egregious immorality. we have denied the very first Commandment of God given in the Garden Eastward at Eden. What was that Commandment? "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  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 1:27-28) Male & Female are created after the Image of God - and that image is ONE! 15 "And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth."

            The full image of God given here is of MALE and FEMALE - not male & male, or female & female. Moreover, this one flesh which God created of male and female are able to procreate and replenish the earth. That is the Commandment, isn't it - to be fruitful and multiply - and replenish the earth? Do you see how the modern view of homosexuality defies the very creative law of God? The Creation Model of God has been demeaned and brought down to the carnal pursuits of wicked men. "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,  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.  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:  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. (Romans 1:22-25) The marriage covenant is not to be broken.  The solemn vow,. taken before God and witnesses, is a serious and permanent vow. Because it is a union conceived by God, it must stand inviolate: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Gen 2:24)

            16 "For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously." This is a profoundly serious warning. Shall we take up that which the Lord HATES? Treason against family, friends, and the Lord are all alike very serious offenses. It endangers ones spirit as this verse clearly describes. God hates the putting away of one's wife, and He hates the Bride of Christ (the Church) putting away her Betrothed Husband. That is EXACTLY  what the modern church has done.  "And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach." (Isaiah 4:1) The Seven Churches have desired to be called by the name of Christ for their respectability, but they refuse His Bread of Heaven, and His White Robe of Righteousness - they prefer to wear their own tattered rags of apparel and buy their own poisoned bread.


            17 "Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?" Does God delight in our churches that are filled with every abominable doctrine. Does He delight to see our young ladies appear in demure apparel and our men tattooed head-to-foot?  Does He delight to see men, lusting after men, in the Holy place? Does He delight to see the word of man being elevated above that of the Holy One of Israel? Does God hunger after evil doers? Not at all! Why do we teach our youth that every sin is acceptable to God as long as you LOVE Him? It is a lie. We cannot love God and sin at the same time. "Where is the God of Judgment?" Look at the clock my friend. It is the midnight hour. He stands at the very door. Our time of decision is waning, moment by moment. Once the spark of life is extinguished, we will go before the Lord either bearing our sins, or our crosses. Which shall it be for you, Reader?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Devotion on the Book of Malachi (Part Five, Chapter Two vs. 8-13) - 30 October 2013, Anno Domini


8 But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. 9 Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law. 10 Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god. 12 The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts. 13 And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.  (Mal 2:8-13)

            The Lord, through His prophet Malachi, has critically admonished the priests for their many faults and failures to provide the fruits of truth and wisdom to the people of Israel. They have spoken where they should not have, and have failed to speak at times they should have done. In our own day, how shamelessly do we observe ministers of God profaning His sure word by condoning those things that God condemns, and remaining silent on the weightier matters of the Word?

            In today's text, the rebuke of God continues against the priests. They have departed from the old path wherein our fathers walked (Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Jer 6:16), and have abandoned the Ancient Landmark of Truth. "Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set." (Prov 22:28) The Ancient Landmark has been set to measure all property lines. If it is moved ever so slightly, everyone's property lines become a matter of dispute. It is the same principle that applies to the altering of God's Holy Word. 8 "But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts." The priest have not only omitted to enforce a reverence for God's own Law, but have added sundry burdens of their own to it.

            9 "Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law." The Law was stringently enforced against some - usually the destitute of influence - and lightly administered toward those of renown.  Politics is forever politics. Political motives have no place in Godly government. The priest have been made examples of contempt for the people. They are held in as low esteem as their faithlessness has justified. What of our modern ministers who are subjects of sex scandal and fraud? They have done much damage to the work of the Lord.

            The next verse is not to be taken as being addressed to the world, but to the People of God: 10 "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?" Frankly, we do not ALL have the same Father. There are but two families on earth - that of God and the second of Satan. We cannot occupy any middle road here. We either belong to the family of God or to the Adversary of our Souls. The second statement DOES apply to all peoples. God has created us all. Now the attention is back to the family of God: "Why do we deal deceitfully with those who are of the Household of God. It is shameful to admit, but I have witnessed more shameless conduct INSIDE the Church than out.  Our modern churches have refuted the faith of our fathers such as the Reformers and gone whoring after the 'feel good - easy believism' religion.

            11"Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god." The counsel of God toward Holy Matrimony is sure and real. We all become very like those with whom we share the greatest intimacy. The imperative for believers to marry only fellow believers is designed to protect us from the peril of apostasy.  God has chosen Israel as a people set apart - not because of their race or righteousness, but because they were the nation that initially believed and followed. Abraham was their father - he believed God and looked for the coming of the Savior. He was, in fact, a Christian by faith. But many descendants of the flesh departed from that faith. They were not true Israel for Israel is the nation set apart for His own treasure. Israel is a nation without borders and without a human bloodline. It is the same scarlet thread of faith running from generation to generation that defines the People of God - not race. The Tribe of Judah had committed a serious offense - they had married off to women of other faiths polluting their own faith. Not only did they do wrong in marrying those of diverse faiths, but they left the honor and respect for their own women who were brought up to fear the True and Living God. The Church, too, has left her First Love and gone after lesser gods of tin and tinsel.

            12 "The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts." All deviant sexual pursuits lead to loss of faith and favor with God. Those who whore after 'strange flesh' of whatever category (heterosexual or homosexual)  will be cut off from out of the land the Lord has given him. The social elite and the degenerate addict are alike cast off from among the People of God.

            13 "And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand." Emotionalism in worship will always lead to an irreverence for the Lord of the Altar. Excessive weeping (and even laughing of late) in the House of the Lord is not an appropriate means of reverent expression. The hearts of many such people, being evil and insincere, will not be accepted by God. Do not forget Cain! He, too, brought an offering before the Lord at the appointed day; however, unlike the lamb of Abel, Cain brought forth the fruit of his own hands. Our good works will not save us. He also brought forth his offering as the fruit of a cursed source - the earth. God said to Adam: ". . . . cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life." (Gen 3:17)


            We may take heed from this account that our offerings must come from a broken and contrite heart - not broken cisterns of greed and envy!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Devotion on Hymns of the Church (Rock of Ages) – 29 October 2013, Anno Domini


1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. (1 Cor 10:1-5)

There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. (1 Sam 2:2)

Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me

Rock of ages, cleft for me,

let me hide myself in thee;

let the water and the blood

from thy wounded side which flowed,

be of sin the double cure,

cleanse me from its guilt and power.



Not the labor of my hands

can fulfill thy law's demands;

could my zeal no respite know,

could my tears forever flow,

all for sin could not atone;

thou must save, and thou alone.



Nothing in my hand I bring,

simply to the cross I cling;

naked, come to thee for dress;

helpless look to thee for grace;

foul, I to the fountain fly;

wash me, Savior, or I die.



While I draw this fleeting breath,

when mine eyelids close in death,

when I soar through tracts unknown

see thee on thy judgment throne,

Rock of ages, cleft for me, 

let me hide myself in thee.

            That Ancient Rock of Ages was not Peter, or any Pope, but the Lord Jesus Christ! There is no Vicar of Christ that stands in His stead – He forever stands for Himself, and none can take His place. Both the words and music (Petra) were written by Augustus Montague Toplady in 1775. The words have been described of the most concise embodiment of the whole of the Word of God in beaut y, in majesty, in meaning, and in intent. The blessed Bishop of Manchester, John Charles Ryle, has described the hymn in the following words: “Of all English hymn-writers none perhaps has succeeded so thoroughly in combining truth, poetry, life, warmth, fire, depth, solemnity and unction as Toplady has done.” This hymn is bursting with biblical truth, doctrine, faith, and humility. It rejects the popular myths and false doctrine that has arisen around the identity of the Rock which was Christ. Let us examine this beautiful and greatly loved hymn of the ages.

            The first stanza possesses the force to evoke hot tears from the depths of our souls. How is it that Jesus Christ is the Rock of our Salvation, and how came He to be cleft for us?

Rock of ages, cleft for me,

let me hide myself in thee;

let the water and the blood

from thy wounded side which flowed,

be of sin the double cure,

cleanse me from its guilt and power.



            Was that Ancient Rock cleft for us? “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.” (John 19:33-35) That great wound, made once the totality of our debt was paid, penetrated all of the way to the very heart of Jesus – a heart that overflowed with love and forgiveness for all who would come and gaze upon Him in faith.  The cleft of the side of Christ, just as the tearing of the Temple Vale from top to bottom at the same instance, removed yearly sacrifice of oxen and sheep, and completed a better sacrifice that would suffice for all sins. We now have access to the Heart of Jesus through the means of faith through grace. Certainly, that blood and water which literally flowed from the side of our Lord is sufficient to cover every sin confessed and repented. Many stood very close to Christ at that dramatic Crux in Time when “He gave up the ghost.” But many of those very close to Christ never received the benefit of that shed blood for their wicked hearts were darkened; but others, such as the women disciples and John, and you and me, all have received the benefits of that salvation created at the cleft side of our Lord Jesus Christ. Are we not washed by the blood of Jesus, and are we not kept clean and pure by the Water of His Word?

            That rich, red blood of Jesus cleanses us so that our sins, though scarlet, will be made white. How white, you may ask? Well, according to the Psalmist, “Whiter than Snow.” “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalms 51:7) I will remind the reader that hyssop is a purgative that cleanses the bowels. God cleanses our inward soul first, and then washes the outward appearance. Having that imputed righteousness of Christ, we shall then appear – not white as snow – but WHITER than snow. Every snowflake requires a tiny speck of impurity in the upper atmosphere around which to coalesce, but we are made even whiter than that snowflake because God will regard no speck of impurity in our hearts once we are covered by the blood of Jesus.

Not the labor of my hands

can fulfill thy law's demands;

could my zeal no respite know,

could my tears forever flow,

all for sin could not atone;

thou must save, and thou alone.



            Have we followed the grand error of Rome in believing that we may be saved by our righteous works? We can do nothing to save ourselves – salvation is all of Christ! “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9) Thank goodness, this is true since no man can live a sinless life of good works. The law demands complete justice, and even a single sin will send us to Hell. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)  All since Adam have come under the sentence of death for our sins – either great or small. The sentence must be paid to satisfy the Law. Christ saved us, under the terms of the Law, by paying our penalty in our stead. All of our tears, all of our fervor for righteousness, cannot save us.  Only the pure righteousness of Christ can suffice for us.

Nothing in my hand I bring,

simply to the cross I cling;

naked, come to thee for dress;

helpless look to thee for grace;

foul, I to the fountain fly;

wash me, Savior, or I die.



            It should come as no shock to the informed readers of this devotion that we shall carry nothing of this world with us through those glistering gates of Heaven.  “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21) The dash in our lives is most important – not the day of our birth, or the year of our death, but the dash in between. When I visit a new church, I like to go first and look at the fathers of the church who sleep in the Lord. Some will read June 3 1943 – 14 August 2004. Though the two years are important, it is the dash between that represents the life of the Christian. If that dash is comprised of golden deeds from and unselfish heart, then we shall leave this life to go naked to God in order to receive those riches laid up in store in Heaven’s bank account. God will, like the father did for the Prodigal Son, bring forth the best Robe – the best because it is the Robe of Christ that covers our sins – and cover our nakedness.  Our works, however, are not the means of salvation – only grace! We are not saved BY good works, but UNTO good works. We are as the thirsty doves that cross the parched deserts of Arabia bound for the brooks of Lebanon. If we come not to the flowing Fountain of Life, we perish in the Wilderness of Sin. If we are not washed of our sins by the blood of Christ, we certainly will, as the Rich Man who forbade his crumbs to poor Lazarus, die in our sins, be buried, and wake up in the fires of Hell.


While I draw this fleeting breath,

when mine eyelids close in death,

when I soar through tracts unknown

see thee on thy judgment throne,

Rock of ages, cleft for me, 

let me hide myself in thee.

            Dear reader, whether you choose to know it or not, you are presently drawing a fleeting breath. Tomorrow’s sunrise is no guarantee for any of us. Our eyelids begin to close in death the moment they are opened in childbirth. The energies of life and growth work in opposition to the aging process which progresses steadily until we arrive at that ‘room of dying’ which will be at the moment of our Lord’s own choosing. The sands of the hour glass continually fall. We behold the sands in the bottom of the glass, but the remaining grains in the upper chamber are hidden from our view. Every soul born upon the earth has an appointment to meet face to face with our Maker. There are no exceptions! Some will appear to be judged for their sins and who have no Advocate to defend their cause. Such sinners will be cast into the same Lake of Fire reserved for Satan and his angels. But the man or woman, forgiven and restored in Christ, will have an Advocate with the Father – the Lord Jesus Christ – and the Adversary will be conspicuously absent for he has already been defeated and judged.  How do you anticipate your defense at the moment of the appointment forthcoming?

            There remains an aspect of truth revealed in this hymn that I have not yet covered, and that is the nature of the follows of Christ whose salvation is dependent upon that ancient Rock of Ages. Why did Christ tell Peter: “That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it?”  (Matt 16:18) Does this mean that Peter is the foundation of the Church? By no means does Christ intend that meaning. Peter is strong, yet weak in moments of separation from Christ. Christ is the Foundation and Rock upon which the Church is established, and He is the Head of His Bride the Church. So what does Jesus mean in making reference to Peter as “this rock?” Are not all children chips off the old block of their fathers? Are not Christians to bear the nature, though imperfectly, of Christ? A chip from the Rock of Ages should yet possess the nature of the great Stone from which it is hewn. Even a chip from a Rock is still a rock, isn’t it? We should be like Him. Are we?


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sermon Notes - Forgiven and Unforgiving - Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity - 27 October 2013, Anno Domini


The Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity
The Collect.


L
ORD we beseech thee to keep thy household the Church in continual godliness; that through thy protection it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to serve thee in good works, to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Epistle for today comes from Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians, the First Chapter beginning at the Third Verse:

I
 thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the tender mercies of Christ Jesus. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

This week’s Holy Gospel comes from the Twenty-Eighth Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew beginning at the Twenty-First Verse:

P
eter said unto Jesus, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellow-servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

            Reading the last part of the Prayer of Collect today, one might be led to believe that the first aim of the Church is to serve God in good works; but that assumption misses the central point. It is God’s Holy Ghost that keeps the Church centered on God’s will and purpose, and maintains the Church in godliness. Our efforts at ‘being good enough’ always fail of accomplishment.  Only in its dependence upon the Providence and protection of God can the Church be free from all adversities. It is when the heart of the Church is centered upon God’s perfect will that it can be devoutly given to good works. The good works of the Church are the fruit that issues from sound faith and doctrine. Without faith, we are totally incapable of good works. We must be God-Like if we are His children. That quality enables us to forgive sins against us even as we are forgiven.

            Paul echoes the sentiment of the Prayer Book Prayer of Absolution in assigning whatever good work that has ensued from his preaching to be solely to the glory and keeping of God. The officiate at worship in the Anglican Church does not forgive a single sin or absolve a single soul of sin. He merely pronounces that it is the will of God to forgive all who earnestly repent. The arrogance of Rome has led to the ungodly error of believing that the priest can forgive or absolve sin. The Pharisees challenged Jesus when He forgave the man with palsy of his sin. They said, “Only God can forgive sins.” The Pharisees were right – only God can forgive sins. Their tragic mistake was in failing to recognize Christ as God Himself. When you think of it, how can a sinner forgive sins of other sinners – and, of course, ministers are sinners, too? It is reprehensible that a pretentious minister would ever claim that authority which belongs ONLY to God.

            It is very timely that our Gospel text today will address forgiveness for it is a component of every worship service, but also of everyday life for the Christian. So many errors have grown up around the law of forgiveness, and many are deceived by blind guides who urge forgiveness of every trespass against us even when the offender does not ask. If a criminal broke into your home and began murdering every member of your household beginning with your tender young daughter, would you forgive him with each additional murder, or would you take action to defend your family by neutralizing the murderer? It is absolute nonsense to preach, or believe, that we must go about simply forgiving every cruel act of the wicked. This false teaching has led to a sterile American church in which no discipline or defense can be possible against the ungodly among us.

            This fact is so clearly and unmistakably brought out in our Gospel text. Peter, seeking to appear quite pious and proper, asks the Lord: “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?” Seven is considered a very divine and complete number, so Peter chooses this number to gain favor to himself. He believes that he is being over-generous in his charity to forgive. The answer Christ returns is one which most probably shocked, not only Peter, but all those other disciples listening. Jesus responds: “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Well, this number is very great, and made up of two perfect multipliers: 7x10x7 = 490. Please do not get bogged down with counting how many times you have forgiven your neighbor until you reach this magic figure – that is not the meaning. A talent was of an enormous value, and every sin is of enormous magnitude. King David says that his sins were more than the hairs on his head – and David was not bald! “. . . . mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.” (Psalms 40:12) The meaning which Christ conveyed was that there should be an indefinite and limitless number of times that we must grant forgiveness to those who seek it. There is a reason for this large number which I will explain later. If we forgive as many as 490 times, forgiveness will become an imbedded habit of life (as it should be).
I saw a very erroneous and misleading quote on Facebook the other day which showed a large man pointing at his young child and saying: “You must forgive everyone their sins whether they ask for it or not!” What a lie from Hell. This idea is not Godly and nowhere found in Scripture. Jesus uses a parable of two different men to illustrate the real nature of forgiveness – one of a King who forgives a servant, and of the servant who does not forgive.

            Before getting into this account of the King and the ungrateful servant, let us consider, seriously, the nature of forgiveness that God has granted to you. When you fully confirmed, or accepted, Christ as your Lord and Savior, you prayed for forgiveness of all of your sins. God did, at that very moment, forgive you of all of your sins – but not a moment before your repentance of them. There must have been a very large multitude of sins for which you were forgiven – certainly a number exceeding 490  Since that time, unless you are a very exceptional saint (an I doubt you are), there have been untold scores of sin for which you have repented and been forgiven: perhaps scores, perhaps hundreds, perhaps thousands? More like thousands, I would say. But God has forgiven you each sin of which you have repented. Now let us look at the example Jesus gives in the Parable:

1)         The King and His Debtor:
           
23 “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.”

            Who do you suppose the King represents in the above passage? It is, of course, God. Who do you suppose was the servant? It was Jerry, Bob, Betty, Paulette, Richard, Donald, and all who call upon the Name of the Lord. We are all a part of every Word that the bible speaks – either good or bad. There will come a time when the books are closed and accounting made, friend, of our lives. God will review our account and decide if our debts have been either paid, or delinquent. May I remind you that your sins are ENORMOUS! But God’s grace is sufficient to cover all through the redemption made available through the sacrifice of His only Begotten Son. Now, I will tell you that ten thousand talents will not begin to number your sins, or mine. But ten thousand talents represent a grievous debt of billions of dollars in our contemporary society. It is a figure that no man can pay. Is there any way that we can make amends for our sins to repay God for the blood of His Son shed on the cross for them? Is it not a grievous number of sins? This servant to which the Lord makes reference had racked up an enormous debt which he could not possibly pay.  The proper punishment for not paying one’s debts was imprisonment and his family sold into slavery until the debt was paid. Can you pay such a debt from the prison of Hell? Can we keep the law so perfectly that the King will not find a debt on our account sheet?

            The servant was frantic with grief and hopelessness. There being no possible means of repaying the debt (of sin), what did the servant do, and what COULD he do? He had no recourse except that of begging mercy through repentance. 26 “The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.” Have mercy on me, Lord. Forgive my great shortcomings (my sins) and I shall change. Have you come to the point of knowing your only recourse was to throw yourself down before the Throne of God’s Grace and beg forgiveness – not from a priest, but from God? How does the Lord respond to such tears of repentance? 27 “Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.” This act of the King (God) is not exceptional, but made available all whose burdens of sin have become unbearable. He did not simply grant a probationary release, but a permanent forgiveness of ALL debt.  What a relief it must have been to have been relieved of such a burden of debt – for the servant, and for you and me, when we came to Christ! Please note that forgiveness was not granted until it was pleaded for. How should we respond afterwards?

2)      The Forgiven Debtor and the Unforgiven:
           
How soon does the dog return to its own vomit and the washed pig to wallowing in the mud! “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2 Peter 2:22) The nature of a dog and a pig remains the same regardless the provision made for them. A reprobate sinner may fain the repentance necessary before God.  But, his old nature shall return unless he has truly been made a new creature in Christ.

            Did this forgiven servant amend his thinking after being forgiven? 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.” He was greedy when he begged for mercy of the King, and his darkened heart is yet filled with greed – a hundred pence was a pittance compared to even a single talent; but it must be said that the forgiven servant at this point has no obligation to forgive the debt. That obligation will be made in the next verse: 29 “And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.” Suddenly, the circumstances have changed. The same appeal made by the forgiven servant to the King is now being made to him. How he responds will determine his standing with the King (God). Will he freely forgive as he was forgiven? 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.” First of all, just as we, or a priest, cannot forgive or absolve sin, so can we neither condemn any to the same Hell from which we have been so graciously saved. What abject ingratitude. Once forgiveness is asked for, out of a sincere heart, we have no choice but to forgive. And, just as God does, we should remember the debt no longer that we have forgiven. Make no mistake; the eyes of God are everywhere. His Holy Angels also report directly to Him of every transgression of man.


            31 “So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.” The fellow servants were more righteous than the forgiven servant because they were sad to see the injustice of an unforgiving heart. No such injustice remains secret to the mind of God. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.” God has forgiven us an immensity of sins, yet we often fail to forgive those around us of a single offense thought they come begging for forgiveness. God places no higher standard of forgiveness upon His children than He, Himself, exercises. To be forgiven of God, we must pray for forgiveness. To be forgiven by men, we must repent and ask for forgiveness. Then are we required to forgive without number of times.  God compares the process of our responsibility to forgive to be identical to His. Remember the Lord’s Prayer which too many utter in vain?  “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matt 6:12) Have we repeated that verse with true conviction? What does this mean? Jesus explains it perfectly in the Parable today and in the sequential statement on the Lord’s Prayer: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.(Matt 6:14-15)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Devotion on the Book of Malachi (Part Four, Chapter Two vs. 1-7) - 26 October 2013, Anno Domini



1 And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. 2 If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart. 3 Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it. 4 And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. 5 My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name. 6 The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity. 7 For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. (Mal 2:1-7)

            God, through His prophet, Malachi, has castigated the people AND their priests for a lack of obedience, faith, and reverence to God. He now turns His Cannons of Admonition to the Broadsides of the priests wholly. The preachers of that day were so very much like the great majority of our day. Their interpretation of scripture was never interpreted in the context of present sins. It was always a reflection of that which was past. But God's Word is not merely historical, but a Living Word with present and future applications to those living in every spectrum of time.  We hear sermons about the disciple's and Pharisees of Jesus' time and how 'bad' some were, and how Holy were others. But seldom do we hear that those unfaithful and wicked people of the time of Jesus reflected the same attributes of our present generation of professing Christians. They have made God's Word, thereby, of none effect. Those rebukes Jesus gave to the Pharisees, and His own disciples, are intended for us as much as for them. Oh, sorry, we didn't want to hear THAT, did we? It is by the expositional preaching of the application of the Gospel to this present generation that God is glorified. God's Word is not historical only, but TIMELESS! We might wisely heed the words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam:

One God, One Law, One Element,
And One far-off Divine event,
To which the whole Creation moves.

            This passage that we are beginning today is a warning, first of all, to me as a clergyman, and then to all AOC clergy, and then to all Christian clergymen, called of God to feed the flock of Christ - not with trite theological assumptions, but with the true Word of God and its exposition and application to the lives of men and women today. Need I remind any that we are not called to preach opinions and understandings of men, but of God's clearly revealed truth. Let there be no mistake - the Great Bishop and Shepherd of our Souls is not some mortal preacher, but Jesus Christ Himself! We have no Pope's or Archbishops! We have been appointed to preach the Gospel - not some man-made philosophy.  WE have been commissioned by a High Authority. We do not preach by our own authority, but the Authority of Him by whome we have been sent. "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Romans 10:14-15)

            A widely accepted principle in the field of medical science is this: "If the brain dies, the whole body is dead." How true that is of the Church. Our Head is Christ - not a bishop, not a priest or deacon, and not a pastor of any sorts - our head is the Lord Jesus Christ who also was commissioned by the Father and spoke every Word that the Father gave Him. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord." (Luke 4:18-19) The Lord has called His ministers to occupy until He comes in preaching the same Gospel that He preached.  Jesus is our Bishop, our Soul's Captain, and the Great Shepherd. We are His under-shepherds to follow Him and to bring His sheep and lambs with us. "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." (1 Peter 2:25) Note the difference in the Good Shepherd and the Hireling: "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.  But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." (John 10:11-14)

            I will be first to admit that our Church has some of the most dedicated men of God that I have had privilege to meet; however, we must all do better - including me - unless we have reached that exalted perfection that only saints acquire at the crossing of Jordan Waters. But when we observe the deplorable state of the ministry of doubt and faithlessness in the larger church, we must admit that the ministers of God (if they be so called) have failed to honor the God who has called them.  No longer is the Bible believed to be infallible and inerrant.  The Person of Christ is demeaned more and more by newer Bible versions based on a selective category of corrupted textual evidence. Yes, I refer to, among others, the NIV, the ESV, the NASB, and many others. The ministers of God have failed to occupy in preaching the Word. The titular head of the church is dead and rotting.  But the Head which matters - Jesus Christ - is forever alive and will bring judgment against all such men who have miserably led the church into the weeds of the world.

            1 "And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. 2 If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart."  The general warning being given, Malachi now directs his words to the chief offenders of apostasy.  But, you may say, these words are directed to the priests of Israel!  True, and just as directly to the ministers of the New Testament Church as the Old, did God speak here. If the wayward ministers of God will not hear and hide these words of admonition in their hearts, they shall receive a greater curse than those whom they have deceived and led astray.  If they will cease seeking glory to themselves and turn that glory to God instead, there is yet hope. Even the blessings with which you have been blessed for past righteous labors will turn to curses. It is chilling to realize that the America which was founded by the direct aid and blessing of God could have her blessings turned to curses because of her faithless ministers who did not stand up like men of backbone when our religious freedoms were threatened by a ravenous government bent upon feeding itself with the wool from the sheep's backs.

            3 Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts." I am afraid that there are ministers who read this devotion who cringe in their holes rather than speak out against the evils of abortion, homosexual marriage, and religious freedoms simply because the government has taken the place of God in their hearts. Such ministers, and their following, shall go off into a miserable captivity  - not MY opinion, but the Word of the Lord.

            This fourth verse is intended, I believe, to convey the message that, subject to a contrite heart and repentance of His ministers, the covenant once made might be confirmed. "And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts." Without the early pangs of fear, how can a child be made to obey the father; and without the fear engendered by disobedience to God's Law, how can a people come to revere and glorify their Maker?  5 "My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name." God gave His promise and covenant.  The ideal priest will teach all of the Law of God and not cherry-pick from those most appealing fruits of their own desires: "They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law." (Deut 33:10) The elephant in the room is that they have not done so, neither have the modern ministers done so today! Furthermore, even those who masquerade as ministers of God today do not fear the Lord, neither do they teach men so to do.

            6 "The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity." The Levitical priesthood descended from those who spoke boldly and without hesitation the Law of Truth. The perfect priest was one who spoke from a heart of righteous love and faith. His teaching did not condemn, but convict and convert. There has come now a new priesthood that is of Christ as its head. It was always so even if we did, as Abraham did, look for His Coming.
            When Jesus tells us that MANY false prophets would arise, He did not say only a FEW. Those MANY have come to fulfillment in our day. Not many years ago, I heard Robert Schuler of the so-called 'Crystal Cathedral,' being questioned by a caller on the Larry King Show. The caller asked, "Dr. Schuler, what does the Bible say about homosexuality?" to which Schuler responded, "To tell you the truth (a lie), I have not read anything - one way or the other - about homosexuality in the Bible!" What a gross lie for a man to tell who had been in the ministry for decades untold - else he would be a complete idiot! How many today omit speaking out against such an evil under the pretense of "separation of church and state?" If Baal be god, than follow him; but, if God be God, than follow Him." How many will heed that counsel, or say, "We will not follow Him?"

            7 "For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts." One cannot be a messenger of the Lord of Hosts unless he carries the very message of the Lord of Hosts. A watered-down gospel does not measure up to that perfect standard of Christ. Municipal governmental laws are subservient to the higher authority of the state, and state laws are subject to the higher authority of the Federal government, and all national laws are subject to the Higher Authority of God - whether our weak-kneed ministers wish to admit it or not. Paul could have bowed to the law of Rome and renounced the Lord, but he did not. He pressed on to the higher calling in God. Should we not all do so?


            Years ago when I was consecrated a bishop in the AOC, I had some gentle pressure from well-meaning Christians to soften my preaching and writings on the evils of homosexuality and abortion.  They felt that such an uncompromising and public stand would not attract adherents; but when has the Word and Law of God ever attracted adherents? It is only after we have realized our depravity and decadence of spirit that the Holy Spirit will use those urgings to force us to the Throne of Grace. Good Christian people, you best wake up now before the steel-toed boot of oppression has grown so large as to be impossible to resist without the shedding of much innocent blood. I will continue to write and preach on the sins that separate us from God - with, or without, government permission.