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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, April 30, 2015

Devotion on Firsts of the Bible - First Sacrifice of the New World, 30 April 2015, Anno Domini



… While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.…

20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. 22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.  (Gen 8:20-22)

            It should be a comfort to us to know the first father of the New World (Noah) found grace in the eyes of the LORD in contrast with the first and federal father of the old created world FELL from grace in the eyes of the LORD. The first and only act of worship we find with Adam was his partaking of the forbidden fruit of the serpent, while that of Noah was a goodly and sweet-smelling sacrifice to the Lord his Maker, and at the very moment he stepped outside the Ark at Ararat. The sacrifice of Noah was not unlike that sacrifice made by righteous Abel who was slain by his rebellious brother, Cain. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. (Gen 4:4-5) Cain stands in the place of his father Adam as a sinner and murderer. The DNA was fixed in Adam before the Tree. Cain inherited that sinner’s DNA just as did Abel. Cain submitted to the temptation to sin – Abel did not. Abel’s spirit warred against the sinful nature he had inherited from Adam and was accepted by God. Cain was rejected! Cain blames his sin on God instead of its rightful sponsor, the serpent (the Devil).

            Do we remember the number of each kind of animal that was with Noah in the Ark? We may be tempted to answer two - male and female of each – but that would not be precisely correct. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. (Gen 6:19-21) This was a general commandment to Noah of all species; however, God later gives Noah an exception to this general direction. And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. (Gen 7:1-3)

            It is generally agreed God gave Noah directions for seven each (with the females) of all clean animals for the purpose of providing meat for those eight souls in the Ark that complied with the food laws later canonized by Moses. Why did God tell Noah to take seven male and female of every fowl? to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. Birds eat every kind of berry and fruit. The seeds of those plants are dispersed abroad through the alimentary canal of those fowl. God makes provision for EVERYTHING! I need not tell the thinking reader why God instructed pairs of male and female in all cases. Even in that wicked day, homosexuality does not seem to have been prevalent. If it was, and God had commanded only “male & male,” or “female & female,” I doubt you or I would be here today, what think thee?

            Noah was not a perfect man, or pure in his righteousness. He was a fellow of great faith in the LORD his God, but he was susceptible to the same temptations and woeful desires that afflict every man descended from Adam. By the way, there has been only one man born of woman who was not descended from Adam. I am sure you will know that that man was Jesus Christ. The blood of Jesus was not tainted with the sin-nature that infected the blood of Adam and his progeny, yet, He too was tempted in the same manner we are, but He never succumbed to those temptations. The Father of Jesus was God the Father, and therefore Jesus had the Father’s blood.

            Noah became a farmer after the flood. God reiterates His first commandment that He gave in the Garden:  And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.  (Gen 9:7) God’s plan could not have been fulfilled if ‘homosexual marriage’ prevailed in that day.  And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard.  (Gen 9:20) The product of vineyards is grapes, and grapes are the fruit from which real wine is made. It was real wine Jesus converted from water at the Marriage Feast at Cana of Galilee, and it was real wine Jesus served at the Last Supper contrary to those who aver that is was only grape juice. Grape juice, in that day, could not have been preserved without souring. IT WAS REAL WINE, Mates! It is unlikely Noah would have become drunk on grape juice, but surely real wine was the culprit. And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. (Gen 9:21)

            There is no sin in drinking a bit of wine, but there is sin in drinking wine immoderately. Once an elderly gentleman in the Philippines asked me, in a village forum, if he could continue to drink rice wine after accepting Christ? My answer, and I believe it to be biblical, was that there was no sin in the drinking of wine unless the drinking caused us to sin. Noah drank enough wine his conscience would not have strongly resisted sin. I do not believe Noah sinned in any greater matter than in drinking immoderately – that is so much his mind could have been altered to the point of succumbing to any sinful desire could have presented itself. That is the grave danger of drinking alcohol, or consuming drugs, today. It alters the mind God gave you so grave sin is often the result. Noah drank so much that he was unaware of any sin may have been conducted either with, or against, him.

            Ham committed some unnamed sin against his father. The sin was certainly not one of ‘accidentally’ finding his father naked. He did SOMETHING to his father and the Bible observes the sensibilities of not relating precisely what the sin was. At any rate, Noah, when he awoke, knew what sin Ham had committed against him. Though this is reading into the script, the only sin that seems reasonable is that of a sexual nature given the circumstances under which it was committed.  And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. (Gen 9:22-23) So from what textual reference do I conclude that Ham DID some sin against his father?  And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. (Gen 9:24-25)

Bear in mind Ham is the father of Canaan – the traditional enemies of God’s people, Israel. I cannot conclude the precise sin since the Bible is silent regarding it, but I believe Noah’s reaction to it implies one of severity.

            The three sons of Noah – Shem, Ham, and Japheth – were the ones by which the entire world was populated; and they are the source of each racial group of mankind.

            And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 29 And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.  (Gen 9:28-29) It must occur to thinking scholars of scripture there must be some distinct reason for the advanced ages to which men lived in the pre-flood age. There have been several possibilities advanced by both science and theologians. One such theory is God simply and arbitrarily decided the evil of men’s hearts is a growing evil, and a shorter life would result in less sin. The second theory and one which seems plausible to me, is this: Sin has an advancing and debilitating effect, not only on the soul, but the body as well. As time continues, we see the effects of sin have grown and cut short the lives of many. The DNA itself seems corrupted by sin and such corruption causes – not improvement – but ugly mutations of character and health.

            There is a third theory advanced by men such as the late learned Dr. Henry Morris that there was no rain in the antediluvian world. The basis for this claim is taken from Genesis 1:6-7 - And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.  The literal interpretation of this passage implies that a watery canopy surrounded the earth high above in the upper atmosphere. This mantle of water filtered harmful rays of the sun from entering the atmosphere, and also kept the environmental temperature of the earth nearly constant and ideal for comfort. According to this theory, plant life and foliage were watered by a heavy dew that arose at night to water the earth.  . . .  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. 7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Gen 2:5-7)


            I do not know which of these theories is correct – or, indeed, if either of them is so – but in the end, it makes no difference for our salvation. Whatever God has spoken, we can be sure that it is absolute truth. Our understanding may not be perfect, but His Word is always perfect. In our new births, let us do as Noah did and serve the LORD first and foremost.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Devotion on Firsts of the Bible - First Flood, 29 April 2015, Anno Domini


… two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah …

6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.  (Gen 6:6-8)

May the LORD be thanked that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord for, without that grace, you and I, and all that we know, would have perished in the old world. From the very first man that God made, sin has ruled in his heart. Though made perfect, Adam sinned and became impure before God. The Tempter, also, that beguiled Eve was created a beautiful and perfect being, but he too was lifted up in pride and became the merchant of sin, misery, and death. From the Fiery Gates of Eden until now, evil has ruled in the sin-natured heart of man. The heart of man is growing, in our own time, more vile and wicked than ever before. Infanticide has reached heights it has never before reached in recorded history. The defilement of God’s Holy Institution of Marriage is everywhere extolled as a thing of honor and respectability. How did these evils arise? They have always lain dormant in the heart of man. The bewitching waters of the Archenemy of our souls has nourished those wicked desires and given them root and foliage. The Sanctifying Water of Life that the Holy Spirit would provide have been cut off, and the consciences of man have been seared as with a hot iron. (1 Tim 4:2)

There were men alive in Noah’s Day who remembered Adam and Eve as parents or grandparents. And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.  (Gen 5:4-5) Adam, for example, was still living when Enoch was born, and he was yet alive when Methuselah was alive, and died when Lamech (the father of Noah) was 56 years of age. The Flood happened about 1,656 years after Creation, so Adam died about 726 years before the Flood. Interestingly, Methuselah, grandfather of Noah, died the very year of the Flood – let us hope of natural causes. Incidentally, Enoch was the first man to never see death. (see Gen 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5) Enoch was a type representing those who will still be living at the return of Christ as was Elijah.

Though God is patient and long-suffering toward us in our frail frames and spirits, He nonetheless will not long abide unrestrained sin. This is an important point for our own nation to consider!

There is some debate on the nature of rain before the flood. There are theologians who suggest that there had never been rain upon the earth prior to the Flood (which would have made it an even more dramatic event). They argue the remarks of Genesis 2:5-6 as a basis for their theory: 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. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. Others say that this passage tells how God made the heavens to rain down water from distilled droplets of moisture rising from the earth. Actually, it makes no difference to us. We know this for certain: the rains that fell at the outset of the Flood were never before, or since, witnessed upon earth.  

Not only were the fountains of waters above the firmament released in a devastating deluge, but the Fountains of the great Deep as well. Please consider those depraved souls outside the Ark at the beginning of the Deluge. Terror racked their hearts. They were caught with no hope of escape. They sought the high ground until the last. As they reached the summit of hills and mountains, they found themselves crowded together with vicious beasts and serpents also trying to escape the perils of the deep.

Finding grace in the eyes of the Lord, Noah followed the directions of the Voice of God implicitly. He built the first boat (more like an ocean-going sea vessel). For one hundred years Noah and his sons labored in the building of the Ark amid the jeers and ridicule of all the world of that day. (By the way, Noah had the last laugh)  Noah was not only the first ship-builder, but the first sea captain as well. The day would come when the Lord would consummate His promise of destruction of the ‘then’ world.  And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.  (Gen 7:1) This was the first Ark of Salvation provided by God through His prophet, Noah. It foreshadowed a far greater Ark of Salvation to come in the fullness of time – the Lord Jesus Christ.

The time that God ordered Noah to “Come thou and all thy house into the ark” has been so sorrowfully misrepresented by modern movies to the point of obscuring the beauty of God’s very words. He did not tell Noah to “go into the Ark” but to “COME into the Ark.” Why is this significant? Because God is always the place of safety. Come into the place of safety where God is – THAT is the point! Jesus Christ is also the place of safety, therefore, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28) There are two other distortions of truth that the movie makers make concerning Noah:

1.     Noah did not round up all of the animals and herd them into the Ark – they came into the Ark at the command of God.  And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood. Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.  (Gen 7:7-9)

2.     Noah did not struggle with a large rope to close the Ark as depicted in most modern movies – God closed the door. And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.  (Gen 7:15-16) Who shut the door? It was GOD! This is a very important point. Man has no authority to close the door of salvation to mankind – only the Lord has that authority!

This was not your typical Mississippi Delta flood. The waters came up from the depths of the earth, and the waters came down from the mantle of heaven, for forty days and nights. “What a mess!” I can hear my wife, Debbie, say! But that was not the end of the flood. The waters continued over the whole face of the earth for more than a year (about one year and seventeen days) before they were abated and the Ark rested on terra firma.

There are far too many ‘firsts’ to describe in this ordeal, but the greater message is that God destroyed that wicked world which existed in ante-deluvian times. He destroyed it with water, but He made a covenant, and sealed it with a rainbow, that He would never again destroy the world with water. The world was baptized into a new age with the Flood. The waters did not destroy the geographic columns of the earth, but it did clean and sanctify the earth of all wicked men and women who had lived before the Flood. Only eight souls out of millions were saved upon the earth. God has promised not to destroy the world again with water: And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.  And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. (Gen 9:11-15)

The greater acts of God are always reserved for LAST. The first man Adam brought Death and Sin; the second Man, Jesus Christ, brings Life Eternal. The first destruction of the world brought newness of life upon this globe; but the second destruction and LAST of all, will melt the earth with fervent heat so that even the elements will be destroyed!  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  (2 Peter 3:10) What?  Is there no Ark of Safety for that time of trouble? Yes, God has again provided an Ark of safety to all who will hear His Voice – the Lord Jesus Christ! His true ministers have been calling the nation, and the world, to repentance. But their preaching has been met with jeers and ridicule by those outside the Ark. How ridiculous, they say, that the whole world will be destroyed by fire! Like those godless minions of the serpent before the Deluge, these, too, shall be destroyed with fire, and their souls relegated to an eternal torment of fire! Jeer if you must, but the Last Act of God upon this earth will hush your jeers!


He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.  (Rev 22:20-21)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hymn 396 – Church’s One Foundation – 28 April 2015, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)


11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 3:11)


            This is a beautiful classic hymn of the Church that expresses that quality that epitomizes the worth of a hymn and its purpose in teaching doctrine and Gospel Truth. Composed by Samuel J. Stone in 1866 as a part of a series of Twelve Hymns of the Twelve Articles of the Apostles’ Creed (Lyra Fi­del­i­um), the hymn has become a victorious anthem of the Church and, especially, for magnificent occasions. The hymn was set to the musical score of Aurelia by Samuel S. Wesley. There are seven long verses; therefore, I will reserve my main comments to those of the hymn itself. The third and seventh (last) stanza’s, included here, were omitted by the 1940 Hymnal. This hymn was intended as an exposition of the ninth article of the Apostle’s Creed.

The Church’s One Foundation
(underlined verses were omitted in the 1940 Hymal)

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

Elect from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against both foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
With all her sons and daughters
Who, by the Master’s hand
Led through the deathly waters,
Repose in Eden land.

O happy ones and holy!

Lord, give us grace that we

Like them, the meek and lowly,

On high may dwell with Thee:

There, past the border mountains,

Where in sweet vales the Bride

With Thee by living fountains

Forever shall abide!
Amen
           
The Church’s one foundation Is Jesus Christ her Lord, She is His new creation By water and the Word.  From heaven He came and sought her To be His holy bride; With His own blood He bought her And for her life He died. If Jesus Christ is not the Good Shepherd, the Rock, and foundation of the Church, then that which is called by that name is NOT the Church! The Church is the new Creation of God that is Eternal which completes the intention of God at Eden where that first creation in Adam fell. The Lord Jesus died for His Bride, the Church, just as Adam died for his wife, Eve; however, with His own blood, Jesus (being innocent and righteous) was able to purchase the Church wherein Adam simply died (in his sins) with his bride, Eve.

Elect from every nation, Yet one o’er all the earth; Her charter of salvation, One Lord, one faith, one birth; One holy Name she blesses, Partakes one holy food, And to one hope she presses, With every grace endued. One tenet of the Creed that seems to be ignored in our day is: There is only ONE Name by which men are saved – the Lord Jesus Christ! “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) That One Holy Food is the Bread of Life – Jesus Christ. That One Faith is that expressed in the Gospel and by the Apostles without embellishment or diminution.  The Church is not confined to stone, grey walls but is a building without borders encompassing every nation, tribe, and tongue – all sharing a blood relationship with Jesus Christ and each other. The Grace by which she is ‘endued’ is a free grace from God that only the elect will enjoy. It is granted as a special prerogative of the Throne of God, and is never earned or merited in any way.

The Church shall never perish! Her dear Lord to defend, To guide, sustain, and cherish, Is with her to the end: Though there be those who hate her, And false sons in her pale, Against both foe or traitor She ever shall prevail. It will not be possible for the Church to perish as did Adam’s bride. The Church is a staunch defender of the Word that is Christ just as Christ is of the Church! If it does not stand in defense of the Holy Gospel, it is not the Church. Christ has already been with His Bride the Church to the very end whose stripes He bore at Calvary. The “false sons in her pale” are the demons that inhabit the branches of the Church (Matthew 13:31). Those demons in the branches of the Church are traitors and more despicable than those who openly bear arms against her. But the Church will be purified and perfected at the coming of the Bridegroom for whom she languishes.

Though with a scornful wonder Men see her sore oppressed, By schisms rent asunder, By heresies distressed: Yet saints their watch are keeping, Their cry goes up, “How long?” And soon the night of weeping Shall be the morn of song!” Men who trample on, and contend over, the “Body of Christ” are not unlike their father, the devil who contended over the body of Moses: “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” (Jude 1:9) Herein lies the power of the Church – it is the Hand of the Lord her Bridegroom! The Church is like a war bride exposed to the scandalous gossip of wagging tongues that never see her virtue, but only her imagined shame. The Bride weeps and longs for her Bridegroom’s return so that she will be justified in the eyes of the wicked who have sorely abused her. When the “Morning of the Lord shall come and time shall be no more,” her night of weeping will seem only as a brief moment. Her Morning of song shall be an everlasting time of rejoicing and reward.

’Mid toil and tribulation, And tumult of her war, She waits the consummation Of peace forevermore; Till, with the vision glorious, Her longing eyes are blest, And the great Church victorious Shall be the Church at rest.  It is the very toil and tribulation of her daily battles that strengthens the Church and which will be her medallions of victory at Christ’s return. There is only one means of peace for the Church and that is the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ at His Coming. In quoting Plato (perhaps erroneously) General of the Army Douglas MacArthur said, “Only the dead have seen the end of wear.” It is true. Wars come by sin, and there will be no end of sin until the curtain of time drops as an ax upon the modern world. The Church Militant shall, at that time, become the Church Victorious, and her eternal Sabbath rest shall commence. How happy will the eyes of the war bride be to see the Captain of her Soul, and the owner of her heart, returning.

Yet she on earth hath union With God the Three in One, And mystic sweet communion With those whose rest is won, With all her sons and daughters Who, by the Master’s hand Led through the deathly waters, Repose in Eden land.  There has been no breach of affection between Christ and His Church during the ages of their temporary separation. The love letters have continued from Heaven to earth, and earth to Heaven, by unabated prayers, and the Word read. How is it possible for the Church (who is comprised of MANY) to be One with Christ? It is because she has taken on the Mind and Will of Christ just as Christ, being One with the Father and Holy Ghost, has the Mind and Will of the Father. A problem of modern marriages is that the couple are not agreed as One. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3) The silent, soul communion we enjoy with the Church Victorious shall be consummated at the Last Day. If we are the Church, we are being led by the Master’s Hand – the way we know not, but the WAY is our Lord, and we KNOW Him. He leads where we have never before been, but we trust in the Good Shepherd to lead us to ever greener pastures, and even through that Valley of the Shadow of Death. We will soon emerge on the far Banks of Jordan Waters to that same Paradise foreclosed on Adam, and the Tree of Life in the Midst.

O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we Like them, the meek and lowly, On high may dwell with Thee: There, past the border mountains, Where in sweet vales the Bride With Thee by living fountainsForever shall abide! Amen What a wonderful benediction to this great hymn of triumph and victory! The only way we may become large in the Eyes of the Lord is to become small and humble in the eyes of man. If we do not LOVE righteousness, how could we ever bear the blessings of the same in Heaven? If we are not graceful, as well as recipients of Grace, how can we claim the gift? The war bride is swept away at her bride groom’s return, and carried to a vale surrounded by the mountains of the Lord, interspersed there with the Fountains of Living Waters, the Rose of Sharon, and the Lily of the Valleys. What an Eternal Sabbath she will enjoy in that seclusion from the wicked and evil ways of the world! Those temporary allurements of the world will not profit, but the eternal promises of God stand forever sure.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sermon Notes - Third Sunday after Easter - St Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 26 April 2015, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)

This sermon is based in one originally preached on 2 April 2012
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.
The entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.  12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it(John 14:1-14)

        The unsurpassed placidity of the heart of Christ is so well demonstrated in His counsel to us, moments before His passion, to not let OUR hearts be troubled. What magnanimity is demonstrated in a heart that cares for our peace at a time when the scurrilous clouds of pain and death hang, as the Sword of Damocles, over His virtuous head but with a greater certainty of fulfillment. In fact, the Lord has only sought to lift our hearts and spirits in these last days of His Passion and Death. Should He not occupy His mind with the thoughts of a brutally unfair trial that looms ahead….the humiliation and suffering….the horrible death of the Cross? Yet, instead, His heart is possessed by an undying Love for His own whose fragile existence will be so rocked by the coming events.  This is the perfect Man and the Perfect God.

        General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was a stellar cadet in his early years at the US Military Academy at West Point. He later became the Superintendent of the Academy and made many improvements to the program there that prevail until today. Months before his death, MacArthur delivered his Farewell Address to the Corps of Cadets at West Point on 12 May 1962. The General concluded his remarks with: “Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps.” Those were memorable lines with which to conclude a remarkable and fascinating military career. But look at the concluding words of Christ, and His Love demonstrated in them, on the eve of an ordeal of which great men of history could never have contemplated without an overarching obsession. Truly, He loved us until the end.

        Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In the concluding verse of the last chapter, Jesus has told Peter that he will deny Him thrice before the cock crows. Now, He continues with the loving counsel to us-ward that we not allow our hearts to be troubled on account of events about to unfold. These words offer comfort to Peter, but not to him alone for the pronoun ‘YE’ is plural and signifies its meaning to each of us. There are considerations that transcend pain, suffering and death. The kind of love that filled the heart of our Lord, and by adoption, our own hearts, is that which transcends death. Truth, Light, Life, Love – all transcend death for their quality is not of the temporary expanse of this earthly life, but comes from the Eternity of Heaven. It is not possible to have a firm faith in God the Father without a corresponding faith in God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

        2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. As a good Hebrew Son upon betrothal to His future Bride, He will go and prepare a place of lodging for Himself and His Bride under the supervision of His Father. Of course, the provision is made by the Father as well in that He has many mansions that will afford residence for the fullness of the Wedding Feast. When preparation are complete, whether morning, noon, or late night, the Son will come for His Bride – the Church. He prepares a place for us in two ways at least: by dying on the Cross at Calvary thus purchasing our redemption so that we would be made worthy through that sacrifice; and, secondly, by ascending to the right hand of the Father to make timely intercession for His Elect.

        3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. Noah found the only place of security was in the Ark of God when God said unto Noah,  And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. (Gen 7:1) You will note that God did not tell Noah to GO into the Ark, but COME into the Ark, because the place of security is always the place of God’s Presence. Our hope would not be full without the sure knowledge that we would be called to be with Christ at His Coming. We shall live by the Rovers of Waters and eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life, and every provision made for our souls in an Eternity with Christ. We shall not hang our harps in despondency upon the willows of Babylon, but sing our songs to Zion in the New Jerusalem prepared by our Lord. (Psalms 137:3-4)

        4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Do we KNOW the WAY? If not, we are about to be told. Oftentimes, we know more than we realize. The possession of knowledge itself is not always a guarantee of wisdom, but knowing the means of employing the knowledge that we have is the key to Wisdom. All of the disciples KNEW Christ, but did they truly know His full Person and nature? As we read the Gospels, does the beauty and nature of Christ burst upon our hearts with the warm love of KNOWING Him? Or do we simply read dead words. If the Words of Scripture are not accented with Love and Life, they remain dead to the marginal believer.

        Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? If Christ says we KNOW the Way, do we believe Him? Apparently, Thomas had yet to learn that the Words of Christ were Truth only. It is, by the way, perfectly normal that we should at times question our faith and seek further assurance from Christ in study and in prayer. So we mustn’t judge Thomas more harshly than we judge ourselves. Even when we began our Bible study with a complete trust in the Word, our studies should lead us to question and seek fuller Light.

        Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. There is no Life apart from that offered in Christ. Have you believed that there is no life apart from that granted in Christ – that He is the Creator of life itself? All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:3-4) Have you believed that He is the Way (DOOR to the Sheepfold) and that there is no other entry but by Him? If so, you will know that He is the WAY! Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. (John 10:7) Have you believed His message? Have you known Him to be the Truth personified? But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: (Eph 4:20-21) You may know all of the above facts intellectually, but if they have not come to be the Crown Jewel of your heart, they are dead facts to you.

         7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. The faith of Abraham was a great faith. It looked forward in promise and hope to the coming of Christ. In that faith, Abraham KNEW God the Father. Without that nature of Christ, made visible to us in His Incarnation, we could not know the mercy, truth, and grace of God the Father. Christ is, as we would have said in the Tennessee vernacular, “the spitting image of His Father!” In a note I earlier shared on the Trinity, Dr. Nathan Wood (The Secret of the Universe) illustrates its nature in terms of directions (dimensions) in space. Without three directions (dimensions) there is no space. All three dimensions are required to establish space. He further disannuls the claim, by some, of the impracticability of Three Persons in one Godhead when they offer the formula, 1+1+1=3. They claim that this would cause God to be three gods. But Dr. Wood gives the formula another way, 1x1x1=1 in which the very nature of each component part of the Trinity equals the whole and each member totally pervades the nature of each OTHER member.

        Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Light itself resides in God – the Father, the son, & the Holy Ghost. Light itself is not visible to the human eye. It can pass through a dark vacuum and never be seen by us, yet it is there. In order for us to know light, it must impact a material object. That material object of god the Father is Jesus Christ. He came in a physical body so that we may, by knowing and seeing Him, know the Father and see the Father. Philip desired some partial revelation of the Father by Christ not knowing that all that Christ was pictured the Father in full detail.

        Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Jesus exercises a patience dictated by love when answering Philip. Philip was one of the first disciples to be called (John 1:43) yet he had not learned fully in his heart that Christ was a full revelation of the Father. After the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Lord, we hear no more of these doubtful questions, for the Holy Ghost will bring all things to remembrance of those things written of Christ in the Scriptures.

        10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. If we look closely, we may read a stinging rebuke to our own living testimony. All that Christ did and said was so much perfectly representative of the Father that it would be nigh on to impossible to miss. When men look at our actions and words, do they see the Father with whom we, too, are supposed to be One?

        11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sakeIf you do not believe the very Words of Christ, than, at least, believe Him by His actions and life. Can humankind raise another from the sleep of death as Christ raised Lazarus? Can humankind restore vision to eyes that have been dark from birth, or restore a leper, or heal the lame? Can humankind walk on water? Did Christ these things?

        12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. Please do not misunderstand these words to mean that believers can entertain with their works, or perform wonders for profit. If our minds are conformed to the Mind of God, we shall do the works of God without fanfare and solely to His Glory. Our works, therefore, will never be showy or prideful, but will reflect the perfect will of God. The Lord Jesus Christ was confined to a body while in this life. The physical limitations prevented Him from doing that which He could accomplish on our behalf when He was at the right hand of the Father. The Holy Ghost, our Comforter, is an omnipresent agency whereby all things may be accomplished at all places, and at all times, according to the Father’s will.

        13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. This does not have the meaning that many modern professors force upon it. As commissioned agents of the Lord Jesus Christ, we do have the authority to act in His name just as a commissioned officer of the military has the authority to act in the name of the President; but we do not have license to act outside the purpose, will, and intent of the authority in whose name we act. Those things that we ask in the Name of Christ will never be things that are contrary to His will to grant. The Father is glorified when the Redeemed of Christ ask only those things which it is the Father’s good pleasure to grant.

        14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. The charismatics have falsely insisted that we can demand things of God and that He must grant them or break His promise. Do you agree with this deceptive claim? Suppose we ask and God does not grant? Why has our prayer failed? There are two primary reasons given in Scripture, all relating to the Sovereign Will of God: 1) Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3) or, 2) If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. (Psalms 66:18) Where may we find the perfect solution to the dilemma we may face in the above? Why not resort to the very counsel of Christ given in Matthew 6 - Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matt 6:9-13) What untoward request does this prayer make? Not one! It opens with an honorific to God. It is a ‘communion’ prayer because it begins with “OUR”. It prays for our daily bread which it is the Lord’s will to grant always. It evokes the will of God on our lives on earth as well as it is done in heaven. It begs forgiveness for transgressions, which are many, and perseverance against the temptations of the world. It ends with a further acknowledgement of God, His Kingdom, His Power, and His Glory (not ours). AMEN.

There is not a single selfish request in this prayer; it only asks the will of God be done – not MY will, but THINE!


Have your prayers been like unto this model of all prayers?