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Saturday, February 4, 2017
One Small World – 4 February 2017, Anno Domini
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:8-10)
God whom we worship in the Anglican Orthodox Church cannot be restrained in walls or even galaxies. He is far too big for that. Neither can He be confined to periods of time such as a single day of the week. Many believe that they ‘visit’ Him on Sunday’s and then lock Him inside when the service is over and do not expect to commune with Him until the following Sunday. The shallowness of modern faith is nothing new. It persisted at the time of our Lord’s first Advent, and even before as Noah labored 100 years in building the ark. The crowd round about laughed him to ridicule, but that crowd perished when the Fountains of the great Deep were broken up and the first-ever rains from Heaven descended in torrents.
When a cadet many years ago, a favorite trick we played on our fellows was to pull the bottom of the sheet up to the head, and pull the covers back up to hide the half-sheeted bed. We called this being short-sheeted. It was great fun to watch the dreary fellow try to pull the covers up at taps when he only had half a sheet. This was not a new trick, but one mentioned in the Old Testament: 20 For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it. (Isaiah 28:20)
I was driving though Knoxville some years ago and happened to hit upon a sermon being preached on a local radio station. I believe the minister’s name was Denton. He seemed to be quite old, but sincere and dedicated to his calling. Though his vocabulary could have used some polish, his sermon was as biblically sound as any I have heard, and far better than the pabulum being preached from the pulpits of ‘First’ churches around the country. He was making reference to errors which had arisen in many mainline denominations in which, in order to get a bigger and more lucrative church assignment, “the minister may preach from a corrupt Bible version and hold to tenets that are not consistent with Scripture. In this way, he stands in quite favorably with those who decide church assignments. He may even preach from an error filled ESV – even more deceitful than the NIV.” The old preacher went on to add, “Everybody is looking for a new bible and a new religion. But you may say, ‘we want the old-time religion of the Baptist persuasion, or we want the old time religion that originates with Wesley, or even the man-made religion of the Roman Church!’ But I want a Bible much older than the new error-filled versions, and I want a faith and religion that goes back before there was a Baptist, a Methodist, or a Roman Church. I want that old time religion that our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles taught, and I want a Bible that is faithful to each and every word that He spoke!”
That old minister had more sense and understanding of the Apostolic Faith than all of the modern pulpit dandies combined! God is bigger than man’s limited sense of truth. He promised to preserve His Word, and He has done so. If the new versions, based on inferior textual and manuscript evidence, are better than the Received Text of the Great Reformation, then God would not have preserved His word to those before.
Modern man (and primitive as well) desires to wear his religion in $2,000.00 apparel, in magnificent and LARGE buildings designed to impress the world. But none of these point to God for we are all naked before Him. There are far more faithful churches worshipping under brush-arbors in the hot climates of equatorial Kenya than in the finest crystal and granite cathedrals of the west. Do we really believe that God is impressed with the best our hands can construct? He is NOT!
There seem to be few in our time that seek to hear true and biblical preaching, but for the few who do seek such, I am reminded of the prophecy of Amos: 11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it. (Amos 8:11-12) I was one who sought to find biblical preaching from sea to sea and north to east, but did not find it until I discovered Bishop James Dees and this Church. I was surprised that there was a church remaining which placed the Bible above the imaginations of men’s minds, but I found it, and I have been here from that day. I am sure there are other small church groups that are faithful to God, but you will find none of the mainline churches that are truly biblical and godly.
God does not need our rudimentary structures that attempt to imprison the God of all Creation within their doors. He is a far better architect than the best of our day, and even of the renowned ancient Egyptians. He does not need our paltry offerings of gold and silver, of wood, and brick. He demands a better building than we can construct – that building will not be the work of men’s hands, but of God’s own handiwork. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshiped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; (Acts 17:24-25)
We bring further evidence to the bar for your understanding: Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. (Acts 7:48-51)
Does God limit His home to our shabby dwellings and steeple temples? Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Isaiah 66:1-2)
Warning for Our Day
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 Stand in the gate of the LORD's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD. 3 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. 4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these. 5 For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor; 6 If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: 7 Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, forever and ever. 8 Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. 9 Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; 10 And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? 11 Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD. 12 But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. 13 And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spoke unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; 14 Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. (Jeremiah 7:1-14)
I prefer the Temple of God to your rude fantasies of grandeur. Observe these select verses:
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
(1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God'sI. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (2 Corinthians 6:16-17)
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
Those who believe are the true Church and Temple of God. It is the Chambers of the Heart and not the walls of a building that defines the Church. The World He made is too small for Him and for us.