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

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Bishop's Letter on Reformation Day - 31 October 2015, Anno Domini

            Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door at All Saints in Wittenberg, Germany, 498 years ago. The Roman Catholic Church had grown more and more corrupt in both worship and fidelity to the Word of God.  She began to assert her own Word took precedence over the Bible. Sins could be bought and paid for through indulgences. Luther had seen enough. His familiarity with Holy Scripture, somewhat rare for a Roman clergyman, told him the Pope was wrong, and the errors of the Papacy flowed downward to infect the entire church. Luther was a man of courage - but not his own. He relied upon the courage of the Holy Ghost in taking an uncompromising stand for Holy Writ.

            If Luther were here today, he would doubtless be one of those committed Christians of the Levant whom the Islamist are beheading if they fail to renounce Christ. Luther would not have done so. He would have stood on the Foundation of Truth and not consider otherwise. There are many Christian children of Syria today who have been beheaded because they refused to renounce their Christian faith. I wonder if the pulpit dandies of our day in America would demonstrate such faith and courage. I wonder if you and I would do so.

            There is a trend today to disregard everything that is negative. All are supposed to have a positive outlook and always to expect the best. How far would such an attitude benefit the martyred Christians of the Reformation, of China, of Africa, of South America, etc? The Scriptures do not teach such foolishness. Eight of the Ten Commandments are negative, and there cannot truly be positives in the absence of negatives. Without both negatives and positives, electrical current could not be generated.  God promises blessings for certain behaviors, and curses for others. As we read them from Holy Scripture, I hope you will ask two questions - how does this relate to me? and secondly, How does this relate to my country.

God's promised blessings for those who honor His Word
            1 Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God. 2 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD. 3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; 4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. 6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. 7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. 8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. 9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you. 10 And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new. 11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. 13 I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright. (Lev 26:1-14)

God's assured curses for those who dishonor His Word
            14 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; 15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: 16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. 17 And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you. 18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. 19 And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: 20 And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits. 21 And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. 22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate. 23 And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; 24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins. 25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. 26 And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied. 27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; 28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. 29 And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. 30 And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. 31 And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. 32 And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. 33 And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. 34 Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. 35 As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it. 36 And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth. 37 And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth: and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies. 38 And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. 39 And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies' lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.  (Lev 26:14-39)

            Since God's blessings are of greater potency than His curses, the curses outnumber the blessings by far. Of course, to summarize the blessings: If we have the FAVOR of God, we have all others of His blessings. If we have the DISFAVOR of God, we are devoid of hope.
The answer for Sin
            40 If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; 41 And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: 42 Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. 43 The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes. (Lev 26:40-43, see also 2 Chron 7:14)

            Perhaps our churches are reaching the proliferation of error and wickedness as the Roman Church prior to the Reformation. It is likely that another Reformation is in order - not to introduce a new worship and a new Word, but to return to the ancient worship of the early Church, and the inerrant and immutable Word of God that was first given to the saints in the remote shadows of ages past. That is what our Reformers did, and we can do no less.

Jerry L. Ogles, Presiding Bishop
Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
Chancellor, Faith Theological Seminary
Latimer Hall School of Divinity

The Reformation

The Reformation, sometimes referred as the Protestant Reformation, was a movement which attempted to correct the deviations from Scripture of the Roman Catholic Church.  When it made no progress, churches formed separate from the Church of Rome.  The reformation was initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer and other early Protestant Reformers in the 16th century Europe and England.

Although there had been significant earlier attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church before Luther — such as those of Jan Hus, Peter Waldo, and John Wycliffe — it is Martin Luther who is widely acknowledged to have started the Reformation with his 1517 work The Ninety-Five Theses. Luther began by criticizing the selling of indulgences, insisting the Pope had no authority over purgatory[1] and the Catholic doctrine of the merits of the saints had no foundation in the gospel[2]. The Protestant position was based solely on Scripture, nothing which is not clearly contained therein is to be required for salvation and that which is contrary is not to be accepted.

The core motivation behind these changes was theological.  The Roman Church did not want the Bible translated into the language of the people, it was only available in Latin and its distribution closely contained.  When the Bible was translated into the language of the people, such as the Geneva Bible, the Tyndale Bible and the Coverdale Bible, people and clergy found how far from the Truth the Roman Church had grown and how corrupt it had become.

The church in England had become a national church in the early 1530s under the leadership of King Henry VIII.  It was reformed, but not completely.  That took place under King Edward VI, setbacks happened under Queen Mary and the church reached its more or less final form under Queen Elizabeth.

[1] In Roman Catholic doctrine -  Purgatory - a place or state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners who are expiating their sins before going to heaven.  It must be clearly noted that the Bible does not teach or even mention purgatory.  And, it must also be equally clearly noted that the Roman Church made huge profit from sales of Get out of Purgatory Free cards.
[2] In point of fact, Jesus tells us not even to pray to Him, but to pray to the Father in His Name, thus it seems quite contrary to pray to Saint Bob.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Devotion on Firsts of the Bible - First Betrayal of Jesus – 30 October 2015, Anno Domini

When you come to a Fork in the Road, the time for a decision, How do you choose?  Right or Convenient?
47 And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. 48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? 49 When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? 50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. 51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. (Luke 22:47-51)

Judas betrayed Christ with a KISS, but others betrayed Jesus on that fateful night as well, including the courageous Peter who also betrayed Christ with his own lips.

According to Webster's New World Dictionary, the word, BETRAY, means to:

1.     Deliver or expose to an enemy traitorously;
2.     Break faith with or fail to meet the hopes of; etc.

Both Judas and Peter fit into this definition of betrayal. Judas was doomed and met a horrible fate, but what of Peter? He was forgiven and restored. Why the difference?

Jesus chose Judas from the beginning knowing that he was reprobate and a devil. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. (John 6:70-71) By the foreknowledge of God, Jesus chose Peter as well knowing that Peter would be driven in righteousness by the Holy Spirit.  Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matt 16:13-18) His reference to Peter (a stone) is distinguished from the Rock which is Christ. Christ is the foundation and chief cornerstone of the Church. But the disciple is a symbolic stone from that Rock having the same nature and appearance. Redemption from every sin is possible for the Elect of God.

But Judas was a devil from the beginning. He loved mammon more than the Moral Law or the Law of Love. An example of this is found in John 12:  3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. (John 12:3-6)

Judas' love for filthy lucre led to his final egregious sin and fatal demise.  14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him. (Matt 26:14-16) There arises in the modern and apostate church, from time to time, the notion that Judas did not go to Hell because he had no choice but to betray Christ - that he was predestined to the act. Amazingly, the people who make this argument are, without exception, those of the Arminian persuasion who reject predestination under every color of meaning. Regardless, all men born of woman come into this world under the just sentence of death for sin, but God calls, by the agency of the Holy Ghost, His elect from among the inedible fishes of the sea. They are drawn in the fisher's net and by the drawing power of the Lord Jesus Christ crucified.

But the nature of some men such as Judas is so disposed as to never come to terms with spiritual salvation. Even though the general call is sounded across the glassy seas, some are deaf to that call by nature of their own inner being. Judas was, of necessity, one of these men. He saw every healing, every miracle, every resurrection from the dead that Christ wrought. He heard every parable and every sermon, yet, He was reprobate and betrayed the Lord - not by compulsion, but by the dictate of his own sinful soul.

The fate of Judas is a sorrowful one. If we have the same sense of the matter as Jesus, we would have all men to be saved; but this is not compatible with the will of God since the heart of many have not the properties of heart to respond to the call. In heaven, there will be no reprobates, rebels, or sinners. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  (1 Tim 2:3-4) But all men are not saved, and God knows His Elect!

Please consider the pitiful nature of a demonic heart such as Judas had. He planned long and thoughtfully how he might betray Jesus. Of course, money played a leading role in his sinful heart. Following the anointing of Jesus by Mary at Bethany of which Judas complained for the expense of the ointment, Judas had seen enough. The money bag was being emptied gradually perhaps, and he desired his father, the devil's, business. The very moment that the Scribes and Pharisees sought how they might destroy Jesus, Satan tugged at his minion's (Judas') heart and he responded. He went immediately to those seeking the life of our Lord and betrayed Him outright.  14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him. (Matt 26:14-16) During the period immediately preceding the treacherous decision of Judas, the priests, Pharisees, and Sanhedrin leadership decided on destroying Jesus: 53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. . . . Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him. (John 11:53,57) See how well Satan coordinates his purpose in the hearts of his own chosen ones.

It may be a further enlightenment to the righteous to know what happened the night of the Lord's betrayal. When Jesus made that profound and shocking statement at the Last Supper, the disciples wondered who was the culprit. Jesus gave them the clue:  26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. 28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. 29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night. (John 13:26-30)

Judas never repented to the Lord for his sin. He repented in himself based on logical outcomes of such an act and not out of devotion to Christ. He hung himself that very night; so, when Judas went out from the Last Supper, it was not simply night - it was an eternal night for Judas in outer darkness. He never saw another sunrise.

What of Peter? Did he betray Jesus in the same way as Judas? Not in the least sense! Peter betrayed and denied Jesus three times out of mortal fear. The last denial was the most hurtful of all: 60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:60-62)   Peter was stung by his third denial and the look in the eyes of His Lord at the moment of His denial. He went out and wept bitterly because he loved the Lord and was in anguish for his own cowardice and failure. He wept for the next three days or more until Jesus rose from the Garden Tomb. Can you imagine those three painful days in Peter's life. How did the Lord soothe Peter? The great Angel at the tomb told the disciples: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and PETER that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.  (Mark 16:6-7) Note that Peter is the only disciple whose name is singled out in the directions of the angel. The Lord knew of Peter's hurt and intended to ease his pain as soon as possible. Later, on the shores of beloved Galilee, Peter was overwhelmed at the sight of the Lord and already knew that he had been forgiven.

There are only two families on earth, and every single person belongs to one or the other. Judas belonged to the family of his father, the devil. Peter belonged to the family of his Father in Heaven.

To which of these two families do you belong, reader?

5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-11)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Devotion on Firsts of the Bible - First Lord’s Supper – 29 October 2015, Anno Domini

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. (1 Cor 11:23-29)

Weary not, nor despond, if you missed that first Lord's Supper, for the Table of the Lord remains open continually to all who hunger and thirst for the Bread of Heaven and the Wine of Salvation. The Lord's Supper is the consummation of the ancient Passover meal consumed in old Egypt. The lamb that was slain that last night in Egypt, and whose blood was applied on the doorposts and lintels of every child of God was to exempt them from the midnight visitation of the Angel of Death over that dark Egyptian panorama. That lamb prefigured the Promise of God for a far greater lamb that had consented in eternity past (before the worlds were made) to be the sacrificial Lamb of God that would likewise, once and for all, redeem the people of God from the eternity of death and sin of which Egypt was also a figure and type. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. (1 Peter 1:18-20) - see also Rev 13:8.

The Lord's Supper began in the Upper Room at Jerusalem, but has not yet ended. We may all have the privilege to come forth to the Table of the Upper Room spread with meats of salvation and repentance, and furnished with the Bread of Life and the Wine of the Holy Spirit. Every Holy Communion Service in Godly churches is a continuation of that blessed Supper that Jesus initiated 2,000 years ago. That was the fulfillment of God's Promise of a Redeemer who would go all the way to the Cross to redeem His people. The Lord was present at that Supper with His disciples, and He is present with all who partake of that same Supper today. Have you ever wondered why the Lord's Table in our Reformation churches is always centrally located instead of the pulpit being central? It is because Christ is central to our worship. The pulpit is situated to the right side (facing outward) because man is not central. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matt 18:20) The spiritual presence of Christ follows the believer every place, but is particularly and mystically so during the partaking of the Holy Communion.

Christ observed that Supper with two symbolic elements - unleavened bread and fermented wine (not grape juice). These particular elements bear significant meaning to our faith. We will discuss below some aspects of those meanings of Bread and Wine:

Unleavened Bread
Why do you suppose Christ used unleavened bread? Unleavened bread was commanded from the first Passover until today for Holy Communion stands in the place of, and truly is, our Passover. The bread of Passover was to be unleavened because leaven represents sin and false doctrine. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Matt 16:6) The disciples failed to grasp the significance of the counsel of Christ concerning leaven, so Jesus frankly revealed it to them:  11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.  (Matt 16:11-12)

In the Hebrew Passover, three pieces of unleavened bread are used (matzo bread). It is of singular importance that the bread be unleavened, that it retains the stripes of the bread grill on its surfaces, and retain puncture marks uniformly throughout. Little do the Jews of today understand the symbolism. The unleavened bread represents the Bread of Life which is the Body of Christ.  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.  (John 6:32-35)

The grill-stripes represents the stripes of which He suffered for us.  And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. (Zech 13:6)  Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. (John 19:1)

The pierced holes in the 'matzo bread' represents the nail piercing and thorns wounds Jesus received at crucifixion.  They pierced my hands and my feet.  (Psalms 22:16b) Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. (John 19:32-34)

At the Hebrew Passover, three individually wrapped (in white linen) loaves of matzo bread are combined together - but first, the center piece is broken and half thereof hidden in the house. That broken bread, unbeknownst to the Hebrews, represents the central figure of the Trinity - Jesus Christ - whose body was broken for us. After the meal, the children of the household search for the hidden piece of bread. The one who finds it will receive a gift. The same is true today. Whoever finds the Bread of Life is rewarded with the gift of eternal life.

Now unleavened bread is made from innumerable grains of wheat. The Body of Christ is comprised of His innumerable host of believers. But the one whole bread is made from these innumerable grains of wheat, crushed and ground, into particles tiny and cohesive. Combined together, these tiny particles represents the Body of Christ. Though we are crushed and beaten, we are being prepared for the whole Bread of the Body of Christ.

The wine of Communion symbolizes the Blood of Christ that purchased our salvation. It is served in a cup or chalice. Drinking wine from a common chalice was the solemn covenant made at betrothal in old Israel. It represented a commitment unto death. We drink from that same common Cup of Christ of sacrifice and spiritual faithfulness.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  (John 6:51-55)

Well, a soul needs a body and it also, if it is a living body, needs blood. The Word of God is Truth, and it is the Bread of Life. The life itself is provided in the blood.  For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Lev 17:11) The most precious Blood of Heaven or Earth is our Life, and it is the Spirit of our faith in Christ. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)

Next Holy Communion Service, please keep the words of the invitation to the Table in your hearts, and also the words spoken at the reception of the element of Bread:  The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving. and at the reception of the Cup:  The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Drink this in remembrance that Christ's Blood was shed for thee, and be thankful.

I can still hear my dear mother, in the ancient past, shouting at eventide, "Supper's ready, kids. Come to Supper."

Can you still hear that voice, but from on High?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Devotion on Firsts of the Bible - First Great Magnet – 28 October 2015, Anno Domini

Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.  This he said, signifying what death he should die.  (John 12:31-3)

            In days before gyroscopes, the most important part of a ship, and the smallest, was the magnetic compass. It was not dependent upon a clear sky for celestial navigation at night, and worked during the daylight hours as well. It served the ship and her crew as the hidden conscience of man, informed by the Holy Ghost, serves to warn of wicked inclinations.

            Like the human conscience, the magnetic compass is capable of distractions from outside sources. For example, when threatening storms arise on the high seas, the compass may momentarily fluctuate from magnetic north, but it will yet come back to the proper reading and settle to the proper heading. The same is true of the Christian conscience. There are times when great troubles arise, and the solution to settle those troubles in some ungodly way, may pass through the mind of the believer; but the Holy Ghost intensifies its mysterious appeal to conscience and the temptation subsides. There are times when other vessels, heavy laden with metallic products, may pass nearby causing the magnetic compass to be drawn from its proper reading. But, once the passing influence has past, it will return to steady. Life is full of ungodly temptations, and even good people will sometimes have their heads turned by those temptations, but if they hold steady to the bow, those temptations recede upon the waters of life and our course is sure and steady in life.

            Our Lord Jesus Christ is the first Great Magnet to our souls. He draws men and women to Him as a magnet draws heavy metal. The drawing power of that Great Magnet is completely irresistible. Like a physical magnet that draws only those metals that are similar to its own composition, our Lord draws those whom He has chosen as His Elect to Him. A magnet of iron will not draw aluminum or lead or gold. It must be metal of a similar nature. But there is another characteristic of the magnet that must be taken under counsel here - that is the transfer of magnetism that occurs when iron remains in prolonged contact with the mother magnet. If an iron spike comes into contact (and is drawn to it) with a magnet, and remains in contact or proximity for a time, that iron will then take on the magnetic nature of the mother magnet.

            The same is true of the person who is drawn to Christ. As the new believer follows closely in the footsteps of Jesus, he begins to assume the nature of the Great Magnet which he follows. The atomic ionization in the heart of the Christian becomes aligned (like iron atoms) with those of the Lord. It becomes less challenging now to continue in the Way of Christ.  Please consider another means by which an iron rod may become a magnet:

            A magnet has a north pole and a south pole. North and south will attract, but "like" poles will repel each other. Magnetism is created when electrons "spin" in the same direction. In some substances this occurs naturally, but in most substances it does not. Items can be magnetized by striking them abruptly so that all the electrons "spin" in the same direction. If we align an iron rod with magnetic north, and dip the tip whatever number of degrees of the earth's parallel of our location (toward the North Pole), and strike the iron abruptly, it will become magnetized. Though the physical makeup of the iron is unchanged, it has assumed a new nature - much like the counsel of Jesus to Nicodemus about being "Ye must be born again." Our natures are changed abruptly when we come to Christ (as we are drawn). If we resist too long, we may be abruptly stricken with circumstances that make further resistance to Christ impossible.

A Word of Caution
            When we have taken on the nature of Christ (as an iron rod the nature of the magnet), we, too, have a north and south pole. As long as we are aligned with the will of God, we are drawn ever more closely to His side; but like two magnetic bars, if we turn from Him, our natures will repel us further from Him. When we approach Him, He moves further out of reach. When He approaches us, we withdraw further from Him. The only means of correcting our backsliding natures is to make a compete turn around so that our poles are now aligned for attraction and not repulsion. As Christians, we still may harbor hidden and cherished sins in some unopened chamber of our hearts. Sins are like weeds - they never shrink, but grow larger and proliferate. When we give counsel to the temptations arising from those 'weeds,' we are then at odds with Christ and His nature and are repelled from Him like magnets having both negative poles facing.

            After God had brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt with miracles and signs, the grumbled every step of the way about the food, the weariness of the journey, the heat, the luxuries left behind in Egypt, etc. But sins, though they have the possibility of being forgiven (if repented of) leave scars and pain. Look at the following account of the sinfulness of Israel in the Wilderness:  4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. 5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. 6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. 7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. (Num 21:4-9)

            When I was a young lad, it was difficult for me to connect the dots in the above account. But God uses every instance, even our sins, to open our eyes to our great need of a Redeemer. The fiery serpents were the punishment for their sins. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23); therefore, the bite of the fiery serpent would kill its victim - unless God would provide a remedy. The sin of Adam brought pain and suffering to all of Creation, and we suffer in this life even with hearts redeemed. However, the death penalty has a solution. Just as those bitten by the fiery serpent would live if they would look to the brazen serpent nailed by Moses to the pole, so would all who are bitten by the serpent's poison of Eden live if they look to Jesus Christ, and Him CRUCIFIED. He was lifted up for you and me. He draws us to Himself if we have the metal to be drawn, and our basic nature is changed in an instant.  Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.  This he said, signifying what death he should die.

            The drawing power of the Lord must meet with like metal, and the metal must draw near to assume that nature that pursues righteousness.

            Once I understood the symbolism of Jesus' remarks, all made perfect sense to me. He took upon Himself the sins of the world just as the serpent's bite brought death to all its victims. But being lifted up on the cross as the emblematic brazen serpent was lifted up in the Wilderness, all have a remedy from eternal death if they will buy look to the cross. By His crucifixion, Jesus paid the sin-debt that we should have paid. It was you and I who should have been nailed to that rugged old cross at Calvary. And in a certain sense, we do share that cross to the sins of self. We are in Christ and have become new creatures; however, we have a cross to bear daily. If we follow Christ in pleasant and verdant pastures, should we not follow Him as well on the Via Delorosa - or the road to Calvary? Though we are not worthy to die in remission of our sins, we are able to die to self and live for others - even some of unlikeable nature. We were all of unlikeable nature before we came to Christ.

            So Christ is the first Great Magnet. He draws His own to Himself as the fishers draw the great nets of fish to shore. As we become little magnets of the Lord, should our lives, too, not draw others to Him?