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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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Brazen Laver as a Type of Christ - 31 July 2014, Anno Domini


18 Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. 19 For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: 20 When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD: 21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations. 22 Moreover the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 23 Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, 24 And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: 25 And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. (Ex 30:18-25)

            The traditional worship of the Reformation Church of England follows closely those patterns of worship revealed in God’s Word. It is reverent – a necessity laid down by God “. . . we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” – (Heb 12:9) – and Holy. It conforms, at many points, to the Tabernacle worship practices that foreshadowed the High Priest of God – the Lord Jesus Christ.

            During every Holy Communion Service, worshippers repeat (with the priest) the Prayer of Humble Access just prior to reception of the Communion. This establishes our credentials of faith and sincerity in coming to the Table of the Lord. The Prayer of Humble Access is NEVER omitted for this prayer stands in the stead of the Brazen Laver – a type and shadow of Christ. The Brazen Laver was a washbasin made of the brass mirrors donated by the women of Israel. It stood between the Tabernacle ‘Holy Place’ and the Bronze Altar. The Bronze Altar represents the sacrifice Christ made for us at Calvary. The priests could not approach the Bronze Altar before washing themselves in the Brazen Laver. All who come to Christ and His Communion must be washed by the Blood of Christ prior to coming; else their reception of the Communion is not valid. The Laver stood between the Altar and the Holy Place because we could not have been washed from our sins had the Altar of Sacrifice of the Lord not preceded our coming:

W
E do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen[1]

            This prayer, sincerely uttered from the heart, establishes our acceptance at the Table of the Lord. Our worship and faith must not be of the silver-plated variety, but sterling in quality and earnestness.


            The water of the laver, and its refined and polished surface, enabled the priests to see their own dirt bedecked faces before washing to our worthiness to receive the Communion. Insofar as the Brazen Laver is concerned, we all come as priests before God in worship for the officiating priest does not take precedent over the whole congregation of the Church of God. “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Rev 1:5-6) The veil of separation before the Holy of Holies was torn from “top to bottom” at the death of our Lord revealing that we need no human intermediary for our sins but the Lord who died for us. We have equal access to the Throne of Mercy and Grace which is the Throne of God. It is no longer the shadow of washing with water that suffices to justify each of us as worshippers of God, but the Blood of Christ shed once and for all for us. The Brazen Laver has been realized in the sacrifice of Christ. Christ is our Brazen Laver – the Word in which we see our reflected depravity, as well as justification, as if gazing into the mirror. We are changed and perfected by that reflected perfection of Christ whose face we behold in the mirror of His Word. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor 3:18)

            After the priests of the Tabernacle had washed both hand and foot at the Brazen Laver, had arrayed themselves with the proper attire of worship, they then entered the Holy Place. So it is imperative that the Christian be washed both inwardly and outwardly by the Blood of Christ before entering in worship of Him. Let us not forget, either, the proper attire of worship – clean, modest, and decent apparel worthy of that robe of righteousness conveyed by Christ. We may then enter into the Communion of Christ. In our modern churches, men and women enter the Church as if entering a movie theater – loud speech, gossip, and irreverence. We should enter the worship place with quiet reverence. Even the minister should not remain without to chatter with the communicants. This is reserved for the fellowship hour following. As the above passage from Exodus asserts, that prior to entering into the Holy Place, “. . . So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not.” This conforms completely to the Words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16)

            The Brazen Laver was an anointed instrument of worship. It was made Holy by the anointing of God. So is every worshipper who washes at the ever-flowing Fountain of Living Waters (the Lord Jesus Christ). The Fountain is Holy and anointed by the Father. We must be cleansed at that fountain ere our worship can be of any worth. Whoever touched, and was washed in the Brazen Laver was considered Holy in the same sense that whatsoever touched or was placed on the Bronze Altar was Holy to God. We have the Brazen Laver as our means of cleansing since Christ has endured the Altar for us and in our stead. He came to the altar of Sacrifice before so that we might be admitted later to the presence of God.

            Have you discovered your utter lack of righteousness by your looking into the Mirror of God’s Word as did the priest in viewing their faces in the Brazen Laver? Have you discovered your need to be washed, through and through, by His Blood. The Lord Jesus Christ is our Brazen Laver that admits us into the Holy Place. Have you been washed at that fountain?



[1] Book of Common Prayer – Holy Communion – Page 82

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dew of Heaven - 30 July 2014, Anno Domini



1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! 2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; 3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” (Psalms 133:1-3)

5 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. (Hosea 14:5)

I have written devotions in time past on the subject of the Dew of Heaven resembling the works of the Holy Ghost in our lives. Dew is also likened to the Word of God and is a common subject about which men speak, and even sing, very casually. It is even mentioned in an old Scots song, Annie Laurie; and is sung as a military march played at the US Military Academy and for the US Calvary of days gone by: “Maxwelton's braes are bonnie, Where early fa's the dew, 'Twas there that Annie Laurie Gi'ed me her promise true. Gi'ed me her promise true - Which ne'er forgot will be, And for bonnie Annie Laurie I'd lay me down and dee.

The Bible suggests that there was no storm or rain prior to the Fall of Adam in the Garden at Eden. “5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. 6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” (Gen 2:5-6)

The dew gathered in the still hours of the night and watered, with imperceptible accumulation, all plants of the Garden. No man saw it’s forming, but all felt its benefits. Grace, too, is like that Dew of Heaven for it is, as the dew that distills in the stillness of the dawn; Grace is dispensed from the Fountain which flows from the Cross of Golgotha. The Holy Ghost comes in the small wee hours of the quiet morning when we first awake in our search for God. We who seek Him early shall surely find Him by the garden brooks and dew covered pasturelands.

I will focus my devotion today on the Word of god in its similarities to the Dew of Heaven. How is the Word of God likened to the Dew of Heaven? I believe we may compare it in at least five particulars:

Firstly, when I was a young fellow, I wanted to camp out – not in a wilderness since I lacked courage - but in our own backyard. I made my makeshift tent and something resembling a bedroll; however, near the time of dawn, I would awaken to wet blankets and drops of dew coming through my non-waterproof tent. I could not believe that dew could condense in such measure as to have the results of rain, but it did! We cannot detect the distillation of dew on that ground exposed to the night sky, but it forms nonetheless – silently and without eye-witness. The results can certainly be seen and felt. The silent efficacy of the Word of God on our souls is likewise imperceptible in its approach, but quite dramatic in its effect.

Secondly, as dew descends gently and sweetly on the night vapors, so does the Gospel of Christ sweetly and imperceptibly permeate the heart and provide nourishing Water of Life upon which the heart may thrive and mature in the Way of the Lord. The change may not be obvious at first to friends and family, but in the process of time, a Garden of Delight and Righteousness will manifest itself in the soul of its recipient. The Word will always have the effect God intends. “11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) My mother used to be out to her garden early in the morning – “while the dew was still on the roses.” Her times of most touching devotion were among her flowers of the garden. God spoke to her heart as the dew of Heaven just as the morning dew had benefitted those roses. And she often sang that old hymn of beauty, “In the Garden.”

Thirdly, the natural dew that falls ere dawn spreads its thirst-quenching waters abroad on herbal plants and vegetables and sinks into the leaves and from thus to the roots of the plant – imparting strength, growth and fruit. So does the word of God settle into the heart from the perceptions of the awakening mind, and therein produces nourishment for the soul, growth in faith, and fruit in good works. “I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.” (Hosea 14:5)

Fourthly, the dew distills regardless of our efforts to stop it. God has placed His operative will in nature to effect the accumulation of the morning dew. Man cannot interfere with its formation. Many sinners that we might never expect to be receptive to the Word of God are changed in a moment – in the twinkling of an eye. This is the marvelous effect of God’s Word, tempered by the gentle Comforter.

Fifthly, the natural dew comes only during the nighttime. It does not distill in the noon day hour. The Word of God also comes to us at moments when we realize that we are in darkness and need the Light of the World to illumine our souls. We must get still and hear the voice of God’s Dew. It will not form in blustery winds, or immoderate music and social clamor. “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalms 46:10)

There is another way in which the natural dews are like the Word of God. The natural dews do not cover all ground with equal abundance. Dry, parched earth will often remain dry after the dews have moistened all plants there about. Some consciences have become seared as with a hot iron, and not longer receptive to the Word of God or to His Holy Spirit. “            1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” (1 Tim 4:1-2) God speaks always, but our continual disregard for His Voice may deafen our ears to hearing future tones of it. There are many who, through habitual sin and disregard of the Holy Ghost, cannot hear the voice of God though it continually speaks.

I saw this explanation of the natural cause of dew formation in a book of illustrations: “According to the encyclopedia, “dew” is the name given to tiny, glistening drops of water, that often appear on plants and blades of grass early on clear mornings. The dew point is the temperature at which moisture in the air begins to condense. Objects receive heat from the sun during the day by the direct process of radiation. But, when night comes, the blade of grass is not able to retain the heat that is stored during the day. So, the little grass becomes cool. Also, the air around it becomes cool as well. Then, when the air reaches the dew point, it can no longer hold all the moisture that’s present in the air, and so it deposits this excess moisture as dew on the blade of grass.” Sounds like a fifth grade science class doesn’t it? Though simple, it is true. The Manna of Moses was covered with dew. The graces and mercies of God are covered, too, with the dew of His Word. When we are passing through the night hours of the world, our hearts grow cool of devotion, but, when the heart of a Christian begins to cool to a certain point – the dew point of God, then His great love and mercies distill in our hearts and prepare us for the coming battles of the day. This is just like God, isn’t it?

The question to be gleaned from this devotion is this: “Do you allow your heart to be soaked by the dew of God’s word daily – especially early in the morning while it is yet dark? Do you seek His counsel first of all before hearing that of men? Do you have the early morning thirst of David? “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; 2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.”  (Psalms 63:1-2)


If not, you may never know the Dews of Heaven.

Hymn 172 – Now the Day is Over – 29 July 2014, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)



O
 LORD, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in thy mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen. (Taken from Additional Family Prayers, 1928 BCP, pg 594)

            Our Evening Hymn for Vespers was written by Sabrine Baring-Gould in 1865. The Music is titled, Eudoxia, or Lyndhurst, by the same author. It was composed for the children of Horbury Bridge School.

            This hymn has a double application in meaning: the first is of the end of a day of play and joy; the second is the twilight of life, when the mantle is laid aside and the spirit is lifted on high, which comports nicely with the evening prayer of Family Prayers from the prayer book quoted above.

Now That Day is Over

Now that day is over,
night is drawing nigh,
shadows of the evening
steal across the sky.
Now the darkness gathers,
stars begin to peep,
birds, and beasts and flowers
soon will be asleep.

Jesus, give the weary
calm and sweet repose;
with thy tenderest blessing
may mine eyelids close.
Grant to little children
visions bright of thee;
guard the sailors tossing
on the deep, blue sea.

Comfort those who suffer,
watching late in pain;
those who plan some evil
from their sin restrain.
Through the long night watches
may thine angels spread
their white wings above me,
watching round my bed.

When the morning wakens,
then may I arise
pure, and fresh, and sinless
in thy holy eyes.
Glory to the Father,
glory to the Son,
and to thee, blest Spirit,
while all ages run.

            “Now that day is over, night is drawing nigh, shadows of the evening steal across the sky. Now the darkness gathers, stars begin to peep, birds, and beasts and flowers soon will be asleep.” To the child, twilight comes too early, and there is a great reluctance to accept the inevitable quiet that attends it. As a little boy, I remember fighting sleep until it overwhelmed me. Then, I recall that it seemed that I had only barely closed my eyes when suddenly, the morning light was bursting through my bedroom window. There is another night toward which our lives inch moment by moment. Some will fight that night with desperation and ghostly resolve – for they fear the morning at which they may open their eyes in Hell. There are others who will go gently into that night, secure in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our labors finally end at the last breath of this life, so we must be working and serving our Lord while the day endures. “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9:4) As the darkness of death gathers about us, our minds will be fixed on those loved ones whom we leave behind. But the Christian saint looks with a deep longing for rest and Sabbath in the Lord. As the bright sun of life’s day fades, the stars of heaven emerge as a guide and compass for the angels to transport us to our Lord.

Jesus, give the weary calm and sweet repose; with thy tenderest blessing may mine eyelids close.
Grant to little children visions bright of thee; guard the sailors tossing on the deep, blue sea.” The seventh day Sabbath of life begins at the Tomb and ends with the coming brilliance of a glorious sunrise in Heaven. Just as Christ is our Passover (see 1 Cor 5:7), He is also our Sabbath Rest – not only beyond the Gates of Splendor, but even during our days upon earth. If we allow Him to work through us, we need not exert our needless labors – for He works in and through us. All of the life of a saint is Sabbath. The time comes when the saint grows weary and worn. He will welcome the coming Sun of Righteousness that beckons from beyond the Veil. Jesus is the Lord of blessings both to young and old. Little Children – the choice fruits of God’s Kingdom, are given bright visions of angels and beauty. The men of the sea, struggling against the wintry gales and foaming brine, look up to the outstretched arm of God that they know will save them as in old days. He is the Eternal Father of the Seas, strong to save.

Comfort those who suffer, watching late in pain; those who plan some evil from their sin restrain. Through the long night watches may thine angels spread their white wings above me, watching round my bed.” Jesus, the Friend who sticks closer than a brother, (Prov 18:24) He is with us last of all when we leave this realm of pain and suffering. He knows about that pain and suffering, for He bore our sins on a cruel cross. He is the Friend who is beside our side when the Holy Angels are summoned as our escort to guide us beyond the stars. To the child, their Holy Angels that behold the face of God always, will stand watches of the night over those precious little jewels of God’s diadem until the dawn of morning illumines the eastern sky. Unfortunately, many little children go to bed at night without knowing that security that the angels offer since their parents never told them.

When the morning wakens, then may I arise pure, and fresh, and sinless in thy holy eyes. Glory to the Father, glory to the Son, and to thee, blest Spirit, while all ages run.” Both child and elderly saint will awaken to the morning light. The child will awaken refreshed and ready to run, play, and learn greater joys of God’s Creation. The elderly saint, at his home-going, will also awaken to a morning sunrise that will be beyond his imagination for beauty and resplendent light. The old saint, made new in body and spirit, will awaken without tired muscles and aching joints. He will be amazed at the lightness of his step, the clarity of his vision, and the beauty of every sight his eyes behold. But the most beautiful of all heavenly sights will be that of the smiling face of the Man with nail prints to show His love and purchase of us. How exciting to awaken with so many great mysteries revealed at once – we shall be at last at the end of our weary pilgrimage, and in the presence of the fullness of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Many, even this late evening, shall fold their hands in sleep and, not expecting the Hand of so rich a mercy, fall asleep for the last time in Eternity. They awaken to an eternal day of light and glory. Others will suffer a long goodbye of deaths slow hand, but the same glory awaits them at the end of that difficult night. In eternity future, no one will recall that last night of suffering, for all will be eclipsed by the majestic beauty of the Presence of God.


What kind of morning will you awaken to, my good friends?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sixth Sunday after Trinity Sunday

Today we celebrated the Sixth Sunday after Trinity Sunday. 

On Point
Someone asked, where do the quotes come from?  The answer is from the people who uttered them.  But, how did you find them?  Oh, that.  Some from Bishop Jerry, many from Rev Bryan Dabney, a few from other places, some from Rev Geordie Menzies-Grierson, but overall mostly from Bryan.  He always has some great ones to share.  On to the On Point quotes –

The strongest Oak of the forest isn't the one protected from sunlight,indeed its the one that is exposed to struggle for its existence against the scorching sun,strong wind and even excessive and heavy downpour. Don't give up when partaking your portion of the wilderness experience.
Mareen Awuor
Kenya 2014

True Shade Shelter
A Chinese convert once illustrated the folly of self-righteousness as follows: "How can a man trust in his own righteousness? It is like seeking shelter under one’s own shadow: We may stoop to the very ground, and the lower we bend, we still find that our shadow is beneath us. But if a man flee to the shadow of a great rock or a wide-spreading tree, he will find shelter from the noonday sun. So human merits are unavailing, and Christ alone is able to save to the uttermost."
Rev  Geordie Menzies-Grierson
Newcastle, England
625 New Bible Stories and Illustrations

He likes to be asked…
“I am hungry,” said Digory.

“Well, tuck in,” said Fledge, taking a big mouthful of grass.

Then he raised his head, still chewing and with bits of grass sticking out on each side of his mouth like whiskers, and said, “Come on, you two. Don’t be shy. There’s plenty for us all.”

“But we can’t eat grass,” said Digory.

“H’m, h’m,” said Fledge, speaking with his mouth full. “Well—h’m— don’t know quite what you’ll do then. Very good grass too.”

Polly and Digory stared at one another in dismay.

“Well, I do think someone might have arranged about our meals,” said Digory.

“I’m sure Aslan would have, if you’d asked him,” said Fledge.

“Wouldn’t he know without being asked?” said Polly.

“I’ve no doubt he would,” said the Horse (still with his mouth full). “But I’ve a sort of idea he likes to be asked.”

Jack Lewis
The Magician's Nephew

Forgiveness
When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different. It is the same because, here also, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. They keep on replying, “But I tell you the man broke a most solemn promise.” Exactly: that is precisely what you have to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.
Jack Lewis
The Weight of Glory

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
Psalm 103:13

And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
St. Luke 5:31-32

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
St. John 20:29

Neither the devil nor any other person or thing is to be blamed so as to excuse ourselves, for the true origin of evil and temptation is in our own hearts. The combustible matter is in us through the flame may be blown up by some outward causes.
Matthew Henry
17th and 18th century English pastor and author

That thing which we would not do if we thought Jesus was coming tonight, that thing we ought not to do at all. That place to which we would not go if we thought Jesus was coming this day, that place we ought to avoid. That company in which we would not like Jesus to find us, in that company we ought never to sit down. Oh that men would live as in the sight of Christ!
JC Ryle
19th century Anglican bishop and author
Are You Ready For The End Of Time, p. 59

To believe in world peace, [the appeasers]... must believe that regimes which ceaselessly talk of war, build weapons of war and torture and murder their own people on a whim somehow share their hopes for peace... [Neville Chamberlain believed that there was a universal aversion to war]. But there is no such universal aversion. If there were, war would be the exception, not the rule.
Daniel Greenfield
21st century American commentator
War and Dishonor, 1-22-14
Propers
The Propers for today are found on Page 197-198, with the Collect first:

The Sixth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

O
 GOD, who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding; Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

As is oft the case, the Collect asks for help from the Holy Ghost to enter into our hearts that we might love God and, thus obtain His most excellent Gifts.  As imperfect creatures with free will, if we ask God for something, it tends to be what we want, not what we need.  He knows.  Thus, we need His Help in the form of the Holy Ghost.

The Epistle came from the Paul’s letter to the Romans, beginning at the First Verse of the Sixth Chapter. Paul tells us that as we were baptized unto Jesus in life, so we are baptized unto his death.  We share His death on the Cross for our sins and by His death, our sin is dead; then as He was raised up, so are we.  It is intended the death we die unto sin is to be permanent and that we go forth and sin no more.  Yet, as long as we live here on earth, we sin.  Yet, as long as we live in Christ, we live.  Thus, we reckon ourselves “to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

K
NOW ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Today’s Holy Gospel started in the Fifth Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, beginning at the Twentieth Verse. Jesus tells his disciples, “Except your righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  Very worrisome indeed!  Scribes and Pharisees spent their entire lives acting the epitome of righteousness.  There is no way mere mortals could exceed their righteousness, or so it would seem.  Jesus goes on to tell us that not only would we not go to heaven if we commit murder, but we are in danger of the same judgment of we are angry without just cause.  If that were not worrisome enough, we are in danger of hell-fire if we call one another a fool!  Let not the night fall on discord with your family and friends, your neighbors in the Christian sense of The Word.  The text following asks us to do our best to follow Jesus and in return, his sacrifice will serve to set aside the just judgment and we shall be accounted as righteous before God.

J
ESUS said unto his disciples, Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt do no murder; and whosoever murdereth shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
We are oft fortunate to get copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.  Today is one of those Sundays.  Today’s sermon starts off with the collect, and like always, it will give you a lot to consider in your heart.

The Law –Then and Now
Sixth Sunday after Trinity
Saint Andrew’s
Anglican Orthodox Church
27 July 2014, Anno Domini


The Sixth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

O
 GOD, who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding; Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. 21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. (Matt 5:17-26)

            How does the Law of God apply to us as Christians today? Has it been ruled null and void and a thing of the past - perhaps uttered by a changeable God who acts dispensationally from one generation to the next? Is the Law binding today as before? I refer not to the ordinances of administration of Moses, but to those Laws laid down by God – are they no longer of any weight and moment?

            It may surprise some, after years on end of false indoctrination, that God has not suspended nor nullified His Moral Law. It is just as binding today as it ever was. Before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, there was no way for man to satisfy the Law of God in the perfect obedience which that Law requires. “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Yes, Jesus fulfilled, or satisfied, the demands of the Law, but that does not mean that He suspended or cancelled them. They still remain inviolate. The modern proponents of “easy-believism” would have us believe that we are free to live in any way we please if we only give lip service to a faith in Jesus Christ. Lip service will not satisfy the Law of obedience – only the received Blood of Christ can substitute for the blood sacrifice required of each of us for our sins.

            While it is true that OUR obedience to the Law cannot save, the perfect obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ DID save us so that we have a perfect righteousness in the eyes of the Father by that IMPUTED righteousness we enjoy in Christ. The Law clearly says that all have sinned – that there are NONE righteous – and the “wages of sin is death.” So how have we escaped the certain penalty of death levied against us? By that substitutionary death of Christ upon the cross to all who receive Christ as Redeemer, Lord, and Savior. The terms of the Law were satisfied in Him. In this way, Jesus saved us by, and through, the Law. Since we have been pardoned and justified under the Law, does that mean that we should go out and fragrantly disregard the Law and teach others to do so? God forbid! We should obey God’s Moral Law to our best capacity, but when we fail, we have an advocate with the Father who stands at the ready to intercede on our behalf – Jesus Christ! No part of the Law of God has been declared null and void. In times past, it was engraved on Tables of unyielding Stone, but now it is written in the soft sinews of our hearts with an instrument of love. That which we love, we can in no wise disregard. “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” (Psalms 119:97) Love fulfills the requirement of the Law in Christ: “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10) If God’s Law were no longer in force, why would Paul make such a claim?

            “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” We do not teach disobedience to God’s Law though some apostate churches (I need not name them) do so with seeming impunity. We do not teach our children that God’s Commandments were nailed to the cross lest we provoke the ire of God against us. It is important, however, to point out that it is not our own obedience to God’s Law that keeps us from the fires of Hell, but the righteousness of Christ whose righteousness is imputed to those who are the Elect.

            All religions of the world, except Christianity, are works based religions. Islam is strictly legalistic. Buddhism requires much meditation in order to become part of the great universal self (whatever that is), and Hinduism requires the adherent to satisfy the whims of many, many different gods and goddesses.

The religion of Christ is not works based. It is not what you DO that will gain heaven. It is what you have believed and accepted, through Grace that will get you there.

            Our own personal conduct will never be righteous enough to spend eternity in the presence of a Holy God. Men and governments have proven time and again to be incapable of a sustaining righteousness.

            “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The scribes and Pharisees attempted to keep the letter of the law. This they attributed to righteousness, however, their hearts were dark with envy, power, and intrigue. Their righteousness was not of a good character, but of the outward appearance. True righteousness springs from a heart devoted to God and full of love for Him and His Creatures. Our righteous works are nothing apart from our love in Christ. Of our own strength, we could never attain to the righteousness of God. The righteousness of a Christian is not his own, but is the imputed righteousness of Christ which makes him righteous before God.

            Christ is now about to a stricter interpretation of the law than previously considered or understood: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.” This penalty of the law is still in force as are all the other Commandments of God, however, Christ adds a new dimension: “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” First note the authority with which Christ speaks as the Judge and Lawgiver! He explains the deeper application of the law:

            It is the heart that is judged and not the outward appearance. Only God can see the deep chambers of our hearts. Even we, ourselves, are often oblivious to what evil lurks in our heart – but God sees and He knows the means by which our hearts can be made clean and righteous. Our intent to kill is the same as the action itself in the eyes of God. Hate in our hearts is synonymous with murder! Christ provides three examples of progressive judgmental authority:

1.    The judgment (lowest and first level of judgment at the time in Jewish courts).

2.    The Council which was the Sanhedrin which sat at Jerusalem, and

3.    Hell fire relates to the valley of Hinnom, a valley in which the Jews in time past had sacrificed their sons and daughters to the fiery arms of Molech by placing them in his red-hot arms until they fell into the hot fire beneath the idle. God has warned not to allow our children to pass through the fire to Molech. In later days, some records indicate that a continual fire was allowed to burn in this valley to consume the waste and carrion of Jerusalem.  This reference by Christ to hell fire represents the final and full judgment of the wicked.

            “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee,  Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Therefore, or in view of, the previous statement, Christ issues this serious counsel. There is not room in the heart for both hate and love, for righteousness and unrighteousness. Therefore, when you give your alms to God, or His creatures, do so with a clear conscience. If any man has a grievance against you, settle that first, and then go with your gift to the altar. It is much more possible to be reconciled to God when we are reconciled to our neighbors.

            “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.” Be prompt to settle disputes with others before they escalate into more serious offences. This applies as well to the confession of sins. Do not go to bed on your anger, and confess promptly to God your sins lest you perish prematurely and have no resort but hell. Confession removes walls between a man and heaven, and it is a continual process. Failure to confess a forgotten sin will not necessarily condemn a person to hell, but it will obscure our vision and service to God.

            Many Christians may forget that, since sins are freely forgiven, there remains a scar which our sins may cause. David suffered the death of Bathsheba’s firstborn because of sin. Our sins hurt ones we love, and even after God has forgiven them, the image of hurt remains.

            “Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” Here Christ is revealing that, though there may exist a wrong between man and man; there is always a third and higher authority than any earthly court of law, involved. God will exact a penalty for all sin. “The wages of sin is death.” This would be a terminal indictment against man were it not for the sentence which follows: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

            So, if the wages of sin is death, and we have ALL sinned, how may we pay the sin debt? We cannot! But Someone else did! Jesus Christ died in our stead on the cross for us to pay the debt we owe. “1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4)

            Have you fled to Christ as your Ark in the time of trouble, friend?

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly  contained in the forewords above.

Consider the words from the Collect,  … who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding; Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire …

We acknowledge that God will give those who love Him more good than they can imagine, let alone ask for.  But, first you have to love Him.  So what should we ask for?  The Holy Ghost to enter in to our hearts that we might truly love Him.  If we do, more good will come to use than we can even imagine or hope for. The Holy Ghost is a key element of love, without Him we cannot even love Him. If we cannot love others, how can we love Him who we have not seen? He gives us far more love than we possibly deserve.

That is the great and wonderful news about following our Lord. He has love for the entire world, if they would turn from their sinful ways and follow Him. This is the message that we are bringing to the world. That He loved us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His Son on the cross to die for us, that we and all who believe on Him might have everlasting life. Thi

We are imperfect creatures, created with free will by a Perfect Being.  To get into heaven’s gate, we need be accounted as perfect before the Judge.  That requires a bit of an accounting irregularity, to get imperfection accounted as perfection. 

So what does the Collect counsel, ask for the Holy Ghost to enter into our hearts that we might get more than we can desire!  Jesus!  Jesus is that accounting irregularity. He can give us his guidance and grace via the Holy Ghost, to make us better men and women of the Lord. By His Sacrifice, made one time, for all mankind, for all time, we are accounted as perfect by His Faith and action.  Thus, through His Faith and His Action, we attain life everlasting.  Starting today, you don’t have to wait until you die to benefit from your immortality.  In fact, God would prefer you to start acting like you will live forever right now.  Thus, decisions you make, actions you take will be with the long term view of eternity!  Versus our rather usual shortsighted short term view, we must think in the terms of the big picture, not the tiny speck in the picture.

As imperfect creatures, immortal or not, we make mistakes.  One to avoid is being “mad” at ones fellow creatures, particularly family and friends.  We pick the most illogical reasons to be mad, the word chosen rather than angry.  Looked at logically, as God does, we need to solve the issue, kiss and make up, and do it before the sun sets on our anger.  Never part in anger.  One of you may not come back. Remember that before you are “angry” at a friend, relative, acquaintance, or stranger. We must not let the anger and other irrational emotions such as fear get the best of us, but rather think calmly and figure out the best way to handle whatever situation we are in without losing control of our emotions. It can be a rather hard thing at times, but it must be done nevertheless.

When Jesus gave His Life for us, He did it knowing we would fail to follow in perfection, but fully aware some would follow to the best of their ability. We must get back up after we make our mistakes and continue on trying the best we can to follow Him. That is all He asks, do your best.  That is not the same as saying you are doing your best.

There are none so deaf as those who will not hear.

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Bishop Dennis Campbell’s Sermon
Bishop Dennis is a brilliant speaker.  He is able to take biblical precepts and make them perfectly understandable, even to me.  Oft he provides the text of his sermons and I take the utmost pleasure in passing them on:

Righteousness that Exceeds the Pharisees
Matthew 5:20-26
Sixth Sunday after Trinity
July 27, 2014

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

            The scribes and Pharisees were thought to be the unquestioned champions of righteousness in the time of Christ.  They had devoted their lives to studying and keeping the Law of God.  The scribes had their beginning in Babylon around 580 B.C.  Nebuchadnezzar had conquered Israel and taken the Jewish people to Babylon in captivity.  Having no Temple in Babylon, the Jews formed the synagogues.  At first, the synagogues were probably headed by priests, but as the synagogues multiplied the priests began to instruct and ordain teachers, called, “rabbis,” to conduct the services and teach the Scriptures.  The rabbis were men of great learning. Not only did they know the Old Testament by heart, they also knew the Talmud, a vast body of history, tradition and commentary which contained the essence of what the Jews considered being Jewish.  In other words, the rabbis were experts in being Jews.  They helped the Jews keep their Jewish identity and heritage in foreign lands where they could not keep the sacrifices and ceremonies of the Temple in Jerusalem.  They adapted the Temple liturgies into services that could be done outside of the Temple, and their liturgies became the foundation of the Christian liturgy we are using today. The fact that the Jews survive as a people today is largely due to the work of the rabbis.

The Pharisees began as a political party.  They seem to have developed during an era when the Greeks dominated the land of Israel, and tried to make the Jews become Greek.  The Greeks desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem.  They outlawed the Temple services, Passover, and most of the Jews’ most cherished rituals and traditions.  The Pharisees arose at this time in determination to preserve and perform these traditions, even at the cost of their own lives.  The survival of the Jewish people as Jews during the time of Greek occupation is largely due to the Pharisees.  Needless to say, they were held in high regard in Israel.

Three hundred years later, in the time of Christ, the scribes and Pharisees had largely deserted their founding principles.  Though still well learned in the Law and the massive volumes of Jewish traditions, the heart had gone out of their faith.  They had become so concerned about the small details of Jewish tradition that they forgot to love the Lord thy God above all else, and love thy neighbor as thyself.  They were concerned more about the outward performance than about the inward attitude.

Our Lord makes a frightening point in Matthew 5; the inward attitude will send you to hell just as surely as the outward performance.  According to Jesus, anger without a cause is the same as murder, and looking with lust is the same as adultery.  Things, like insulting another person, which make you liable in human courts, make you worthy of hell fire in God’s court of perfect justice.  But, notice that Christ is not talking to scribes and Pharisees in this passage.  These verses are part of the Sermon on the Mount, delivered in Galilee to the everyday “man in the street.”  They were not scholars or “saints.”  They were just regular people trying to earn a living and feed their families.  They could not while away their days in study and prayer.  They had work to do. How could their righteousness ever hope to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees?  But Matthew 5:20 doesn’t just apply to the ancient Jews.  It applies to us today.  How can the average person, who hasn’t been to seminary, and has to work a job and support a family and keep up a home, ever hope to exceed the righteousness of the professional holy men?

I think Christ’s point here is that real righteousness has two parts.  First, it is a matter of the heart. It is a matter of love for God.  The scribes and Pharisees had become so focused on the Talmud they could not see God.  They were like a person with binoculars who spent his time admiring the binoculars instead of using them.

Second, the kind of righteousness Jesus is talking about cannot be achieved by our efforts.  It has to come to us from God as a gift.  This is because nobody is able to keep the law perfectly.  Even those, like the scribes and Pharisees, who excel at keeping the letter of God’s commandments, are utter failures at keeping the spirit of the law.  Maybe they have never committed murder, but they have hated people without just cause.  Maybe they have never committed adultery, but have lusted.  Maybe they have never stolen but they have coveted.  So they are not really righteous after all.  They are sinners, just like everyone else.  And if your righteousness is no better that theirs, then you are as lost and far from God as they.  Is your righteousness better?  Have you not hated without a cause?  According to Christ, that is the same as murder in the eyes of God.  Have you not lusted?  That is the same as adultery.  Have you not coveted?  That is the same as theft.  And we all do it.  And there is no excuse for it.  We are guilty sinners before God.

I said there is no excuse for our sins, but, thank God, there is forgiveness.  Christ died to suffer the penalty of your sins.  Imagine yourself dressed in filthy, maggot infested rags.  They represent your sins.  Now picture Christ taking these rags off of you and putting them on Himself.  He dressed in your sins, and died for them on the cross.  But that is only half of what He did.  He also took the perfect, seamless, spotless, priceless robe of His righteousness, and dressed you in it.  He gave it to you to keep forever.  And dressed in His righteousness, you are far more righteous than any scribe or Pharisee, or you could ever achieve.  In Him you are completely righteous.  That is the only way your righteousness can exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees.

Rev Bryan Dabney of Saint John’s Sunday Sermon
We are fortunate to have Bryan’s Sunday Sermon.  If you want people to come to The Truth, you have to speak the truth, expouse the truth and live the truth.    This is really a good piece and I commend it to your careful reading.

Sixth Sunday after Trinity

In the epistle for today (Romans 6:9-10) we read, Christ being raised  from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Consider also the following passage taken from the Book of Hebrews (9:24-28), For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true: but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest enterth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

In Old Testament times, the Israelites were under a covenant obligation to make certain offerings and sacrifices to God for their sins and trespasses. Original sin had brought death— both physical and spiritual— to mankind. God gave to his chosen people a temporary means of being freed from their sins through his prescriptions as set forth in the Law of Moses. But these offerings and sacrifices only covered their immediate sins and did not impute to the individual petitioner everlasting salvation. And so, from year to year, the faithful journeyed to Jerusalem to offer up those sacrifices and offerings which God required. St. Paul likened this to being under the tutelage of a pedagogue or teacher (see Galatians 3:23-25). And so it was necessary for God the Father to send his only begotten Son into the world to set us free from the bondage of the Law (Romans 7:15-8:4).

In response to our Lord’s free gift to us, St. Paul counseled all to, Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1). And the apostle clarified the issue of the sacrifices when he wrote in Hebrews 10, For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins (vv.1-2)... For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins (v.4)... But this man [Christ Jesus], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God (v.12)... for by one offering, he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (v.14)... Now where remission of [sin] is, there is no more offering for sin (v. 18).

Given the aforementioned verses, a proper understanding of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper would be that it is a memorial to our Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary’s cross. In our prayer book on page 80 are the words of institution given us by our Lord: do this in remembrance of me, and, this is my body, and this is my blood. Admittedly, without a proper bible understanding of this sacrament, one might come to see it as the Medieval Church did when it changed the character of the Lord’s Supper into a ritual re-enactment of his sacrifice. This errant practice was initially proposed by a Benedictine monk named Radbertus in the 9th century but was not formally approved until the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. And ever since, the Medieval Church continues to offer up our Lord— sacrificing him again and again, as it were, “on cue”— in opposition to the expressed word of God (Hebrews 9:24-28).

While this and other errant practices— such as the use of icons, statuary, relics and monstrances— were viewed as instructional tools to educate the illiterate and the unlearned among the laity; all of the aforementioned items are beyond the precincts of Scripture. Consider God’s second commandment, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them... (Exodus 20:4- 5a). God has spoken and it is not subject to change by his creatures. It is one thing to have God amend his word as noted in Acts 15:1-21 wherein we read St. James then said, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return , and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. But it is something else entirely for men to amend God by their tradition (St. Matthew 15:1-11).

At first blush, it does seem strange indeed that the Medieval Church would simply ignore the expressed will of God as noted Hebrews 10 concerning the nature of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. But if one examines church history, one will discover that by 13th century, it had become the doorkeeper for interpreting the Holy Bible throughout much of Europe. There was no private interpretation of the scriptures by the laity, or even the lesser clergy. Every interpretation had to pass muster via the church hierarchy, and even then it was likely to be changed to conform to some new pope, or church council’s point of view. Ergo, the sound doctrine of one day could become the next’s new heresy. As St. John wrote concerning the church at Pergamos in the Book of Revelation (2:14), Thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols... that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. The Nicolaitanes were the precursors of the formal priesthood that lorded over the people. It was the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes which heralded the coming of the papacy. Therefore that which, in the church at Ephesus was more or less an administrative evil (2:6), had now become, in Pergamos, an accepted doctrine (2:15).

The doctrine of Balaam hearkens us back to the Book of Numbers (25:1-18) wherein the hireling prophet induced the Israelites to engage in idol worship and fornication, which angered God and resulted in not only the prophet’s death, but that of several thousand Israelites who had participated in his false worship. As one commentator put it, “The doctrine of Balaam was his teaching Balak to corrupt the people who could not be cursed by tempting them to marry women of Moab, defile their separation and abandon their pilgrim character. It is that union of the world and church which is spiritual unchastity.”

Given what we know about the history of the Medieval Church— particularly its adoption of extra-biblical forms and practices— we can better understand why it had become like the scribes and Pharisees whom our Lord rebuked saying, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition... This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (St. Matthew 15:3-8). Traditions within the Medieval Church, such as transubstantiation, originated in a time well apart from our own and that is what makes them so hard to root out. Also, it has not been slack in its teaching of these errors to every generation of its congregants since the time of their acceptance. And such explains why those erroneous doctrines and practices possess an aura of credibility. Finally, they are supported by the testimonies of men who possessed great learning and were reputed experts in the field of theology and bible languages. Who then can rightly question them today? What credibility will the critics of these traditions have against such a cadre of respected and learned scholars? Well, folks, you cannot make right what God in his word has said is wrong no matter how many letters you have following your last name, or what prefix you have before your first name. The words and numbers that matter are the chapter number and verse of a named canonical book of Scripture. That should be the measure of truth and nothing else.

It is important for us as born-again believers to follow the precepts of the written word of God. Both the early church and the Reformation church attempted to carry that message forward, and it is vitally important for all true and faithful Christians, regardless of their denominational brands, to be obedient to the expressed will of God. If we are engaging in false worship based upon false doctrines, then we are no different than Cain, or Korah or Nadab and Abihu. Will worship is not God worship. It is after all God who is sovereign. He has not left us without proper instruction. It would behoove us all to follow those things that are found within the Holy Bible, and not offer up to God those things which will impair our fellowship and endanger the salvation of others who might see our errors and embrace them as truth.

Let us pray,

F
ather, keep us from all false worship and idolatry, and guide us into the paths of righteous; for this we ask in the name of him who made one offering of himself for sin, and will come again in glory to rule as our King, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Have a blessed week, Bryan+