Saturday, March 31, 2018
1 April 2018, Anno Domini
YGod, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? (Psalm 22:1) I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. (Psalm 22:22)
On Palm Sunday how our Lord came to Jerusalem by way of the Mount of Olives (His favored place of prayer) which borders the Kidron Valley on the east of the city. He was hailed by the multitudes of Jerusalem with loud Hosannas and much fanfare. It is worth noting that five days later, those same multitudes were calling for His crucifixion – a testimony to the fickle nature of men without Christ.
Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm which describes the suffering of Christ on the cross. As you can see, it even begins with the very words of Christ on the cross at His final hour given in Matthew 27:46, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.” But look at the change in tone of this great Psalm at verse 22! Now, He has finished His atoning sacrifice and will “declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” And He is in the midst of all today who are gathered together in His name.
Jesus did not take up the burden of His cross on the Via Dolorosa – He undertook that cross from the moment of His coming. It was a long walk He trod. He was rejected and ridiculed, scorned and persecuted; yet, His feet never turned from His advance to that dreadful hill outside the gates of the city called Calvary and Golgotha.
We, too, are commanded to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23)– not just at life’s end, but every step of the walk of the faithful. We die, as did Paul, daily to self. We follow in the tracks of our Lord not only along the blue shores of scenic Galilee, but also through the hateful corridors of Jewish rulers and religious bigots. And, yes, we must bear our cross to Golgotha as well.
Gloriously pointed out in the 22nd Psalm beginning at verse 22 is the fact our following will result in a glad morning of praise and joy after we have, like Christ, emerged from our borrowed tombs.
Our cross may not reward us with power, pelf, and prestige as the world values those attributes. We, too, will be rejected and persecuted, scorned and alienated, if we are true to our conviction in Christ. But joy shall come at the knell of victory from the heights of Mt. Moriah at the end of our pilgrimage.
As Children of the Most High King, we shall walk, talk, and live in the power and victory of our Lord.
Jerry L. Ogles
Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
Friday, March 30, 2018
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ATHER, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)
For most of my life from the age of my Christian accountability I have heard it preached that Jesus forgave even those men who were crucifying Him on the cross at Calvary. But I am not so sure this is the case. Since our Lord had condemned the Jewish rulers time and again as “children of their father the devil”, and as a “generation of vipers”, I do not believe these words from the cross were intended for them. But the Roman consort whose mission it was to fulfill the dastardly deed on behalf of the Jewish rulers had no idea who Jesus was. To them, He was just another miscreant judged guilty and deserving of death. This, the Lord well knew. So why did our Lord not pronounce forgiveness outright to these?
One great issue which moved Luther to awaken to the true Gospel was the practice of indulgences granted by the Roman Church to sinners who could presumably be forgiven for sins in return for a specified donation. “Although reformers had many complaints about the Catholic Church of the 16thcentury, the practice of selling "indulgences" raised the most opposition. An indulgence was a payment to the Catholic Church that purchased an exemption from punishment (penance) for some types of sins. You could not get an indulgence to excuse a murder, but you could get one to excuse many lesser sins, such as thinking lustful thoughts about someone who was not your spouse. The customers for indulgences were Catholic believers who feared that if one of their sins went unnoticed or unconfessed, they would spend extra time in purgatory before reaching heaven or worse, wind up in hell for failing to repent.” Against the Sale of Indulgences by Martin Luther and by Jim Jones, West Chester University of Pennsylvania (c.2012) We find the classical definition in Webster’s Dictionary: “In Roman Catholicism the remission by the pope of the temporal punishment in purgatory that is still due for sins even after absolution; for example, ‘"in the Middle Ages the unrestricted sale of indulgences by pardoners became a widespread abuse"’ Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary.
Of course, indulgencies are a lie out of the pits of Hell. The great penalty Jesus paid on our behalf negates any works of man to remit sin. The wages of Sin must be paid or else there is no forgiveness. When we sin, we must repent to the Lord and seek His forgiveness which is forever forthcoming. However, unrepented sin is another matter. The Lord said to the churches: 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. (Rev 2:5)He did not say I freely forgive you for disobedience to my Word.And the Lord expects no more, or less of forgiveness, of His people than He demands of Himself. Forgiveness needs to be sought, and we need to grant such forgiveness from one and all.
There are two reasons, in my thinking, that prohibited Christ from forgiving those who nailed the spikes into His hands and feet:
1. The sin begun by those who nailed Jesus to the cross would not be completed until the victim on the cross was dead; in other words, the sin was ongoing, and the Lord does not forgive sins that are not repented of.
2. He could not forgive them their sins in crucifying His Father’s only Begotten Son – that was a matter exclusively left to the Father. The pain of the Father was far greater than that of the Son on Calvary.
We sometime mistake the nature of forgiveness. If a man breaks into your home and rapes and murders your little daughter, will you calmly say to the culprit, “I forgive you!” Should you do? No, it is out of focus with the nature by which God forgives us our sins. We must first be penitent and seeking forgiveness. If we, or the Church, goes about forgiving the sins of others, willy-nilly, how could discipline ever be enforced in the Church or in the home. If your child, against your counsel, plays in the street, do you say time after time, “Oh, its OK, I forgive you!?” When the Pharisees offended the Divine nature of Christ, how did Christ respond? Did He say, “Oh, that is OK, I forgive you?” Let us see how He responded:
22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. (Matt 12:22-24)This was a grievous offense. Beelzebub was tantamount to calling the Jesus the Lord of the Dung Fly. So, what did Jesus say to them?
He responded by condemning them in their talk: 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? 27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. 29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. 31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. 33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. 34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. (Matt 12:26-34)
Being referred to as a generation of vipers (poisonous snakes) and as being EVIL does not sound like outright forgiveness, does it?
I believe the clear utterance of the first words uttered by our Lord on the Cross demonstrate the two points I made concerning the forgiveness of sins and offenses. Despite the heresy of indulgences for future sin, God will not forgive ‘future sin’ until repented. Neither did Christ on the cross since the sin was in progress. But our Lord could neither forgive on behalf of His Father the egregious sin of horrific murder of His Son. It may be true, and most probably is, that some of the soldiers, especially the centurion, to accept the benefits of forgiveness and salvation once the deed was finished. 37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. 38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. 39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. (Mark 15:37-39)
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
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NDafter these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: 2 For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. 3 And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. 4 And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. (Rev 19:1-4)
I believe the title of this song is most intended for angelic exclamation as it appears only in the New Testament, and there in the last Book – Revelations – and then near the end of that Book beginning at chapter 19. The word may also appear as Hallelujah. The word translated from the Greek means ‘praise ye Jah (God)’.
The tune for this hymn in the 1940 Hymnal is LUX EOI by Arthur S. Sullivan (1874). An excellent alternate tune is Beethoven’s ODE TO JOY – yes, of course, my favorite! The lyrics are the presumed composition of Christopher Wordsworth. (1872)
Hearts to heav'n and voices raise:
sing to God a hymn of gladness,
sing to God a hymn of praise.
He, who on the cross a victim
for the world's salvation bled,
Jesus Christ, the King of glory,
now is risen from the dead.
Now the iron bars are broken,
Christ from death to life is born,
glorious life, and life immortal,
on the holy Easter morn.
Christ has triumphed, and we conquer
by His mighty enterprise;
we with Him to life eternal
by His resurrection rise.
Christ is risen, Christ, the first-fruits
of the holy harvest field,
which will all its full abundance
at His second coming yield.
Then the golden ears of harvest
will their heads before Him wave,
ripened by His glorious sunshine
from the furrows of the grave.
Christ is risen, we are risen!
Shed upon us heav'nly grace,
rain, and dew and gleams of glory
from the brightness of Thy face,
that we, with our hearts in heaven,
here on earth may fruitful be,
and by angel hands be gathered,
and be ever, Lord, with Thee.
Glory be to God on high!
Alleluia! to the Savior
who has gained the victory!
Alleluia! to the Spirit,
fount of love and sanctity!
to the Triune Majesty.
1 Alleluia, alleluia! Hearts to heav'n and voices raise: sing to God a hymn of gladness, sing to God a hymn of praise. He, who on the cross a victim for the world's salvation bled, Jesus Christ, the King of glory, now is risen from the dead.Before the soul is granted entry to the gates of Heaven, the heart must already be sequestered there from the trappings of the world. When the heart is settled in Heaven, then the music of the angels can be heard in all its grandeur. We awaken with ‘songs in the night’ and prayers of praise upon our lips. Christ was not truly a victim on the cross – He cannot fit the description of a victim. He is rather a Victor! But He died to preclude our own victimhood to the Serpent of the Ancient Garden at Eden. Christ did not only die in our stead for our redemption on the cross, but rose from the borrowed tomb in order to open the gates of life for us.
2 Now the iron bars are broken, Christ from death to life is born, glorious life, and life immortal, on the holy Easter morn. Christ has triumphed, and we conquer by His mighty enterprise; we with Him to life eternal by His resurrection rise.What a long and triumphal column of believers follow in His trail from the tombs of the world from desert dune, mountain fastness, and the eternal ocean depths! In step with His victory anthem these march lockstep with His triumphal trumpeters straight to the Gate called Beautiful.
3 Christ is risen, Christ, the first-fruits of the holy harvest field, which will all its full abundance at His second coming yield. Then the golden ears of harvest will their heads before Him wave, ripened by His glorious sunshine from the furrows of the grave.The darkness of death brings sorrow and dread to the heart that is not secure in the Heart and Love of our Lord. Just as Peter wept bitterly from the moment he denied our Lord the third time, and at the very moment that the Lord turned and looked Peter directly in the eye (Matt 26:75, Luke 22:61-62), until the courageous women shared the news of His rising as commanded by the Angel at the Tomb. (Mark 16:7), we likewise suffer in doubt in hard times. Note that the Angel only mentioned the name of Peter of all the disciples. The Lord was gracious in His knowledge of the hurt that Peter was feeling since his denial and thereby eased his pain.
4 Christ is risen, we are risen! Shed upon us heav'nly grace, rain, and dew and gleams of glory from the brightness of Thy face, that we, with our hearts in heaven, here on earth may fruitful be, and by angel hands be gathered, and be ever, Lord, with Thee.The opening line is the most glorious of all, for it is only in Christ that we arise from our humble tombs of borrowed dust. He led the way as He always does in the lives of His people. The heart of the Christian does not belong in this world, but is on loan from Heaven. Just as the face of Moses shown with brightness at the sight of God, so will our faces alight with crimson fire when we come face to face with our Lord in Heaven. The Gospel is of the nature of that dragnet mentioned in Matthew 13:47:47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 13:46-50)The Church itself is portrayed here as a dragnet which catches all manner of fish that comes into its borders – both good and bad. In the church there seems to be at least as many marginal Christians as genuine believers. In fact, I believe the unbelievers outnumber the believers by far. It will be the role of the Holy Angels to distinguish the difference at the end time.
5 Alleluia, alleluia! Glory be to God on high! Alleluia! to the Savior who has gained the victory! Alleluia! to the Spirit, fount of love and sanctity! Alleluia, alleluia to the Triune Majesty.We must beware that we do not forsake that Fountain of love and sanctity: O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, andthey that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters. (Jer 17:13)He is the Fountain of Living Waters which imparts life to all within its swelling flow.
Sunday, March 25, 2018
|If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!|
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.
Consider these words from the Collect:
… thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection…
In the Collect, we acknowledge God sent His Son to be our Savior. Think about that, the Creator, Lord and Master of the Universe sent His only Son to live amongst us and not just provide us with instruction and leadership, but to give His earthly life as a one time sacrifice for our sin that we might be accounted as perfect in our final accounting, the resurrection. How much did God value His Son? Consider what Paul tells us - Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Reading this, let us consider how much God valued His Son and how much He values us that He sent His Son here to teach us to guide us, to love us, and finally to give His Life for us that we might be free from the bonds of sin and death. He was God’s only begotten son like John 3:16 says. Consider how precious of a being He is to God, then realize how much He loves us, that He sent His Only Begotten son that we should not perish in hellfire, but spend our eternity with Him and His Son. He let His Son undergo tremendous physical pain, pain that we should rightly have ourselves in this life and in eternity, and paid for all of our transgressions. He humbled himself to a commoner’s death, and not just that of any commoner, but that of a thief. He effectively took our place physically on the cross, physically in the sense we are sinners, and as Paul points out in Romans, the wages for sin is death. Jesus effectively replaced us and took the wages for sin on our behalf so we might have everlasting life.
The Collect calls us to follow the example Jesus set in His actions of His Death and Resurrection, and also calls us to embody His great humility and His great patience, that we might follow the upward narrow path towards heaven and be partakers of His Resurrection. Jesus’s great humility, humbling himself, the being who created this planet, to die for us on the cross, laying down His Life for ours, is an example we must strive to emulate in our own lives, to the best of our abilities.
If we follow His Example and do our best to emulate His humility and patience, we too can be a part of His Resurrection. We will be a part of our own resurrection of sorts. To accomplish this, we have to have our selfish selves die and be replaced with the unselfish self, which we can achieve through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we need to stop our sinful behavior and replace that behavior with more Godly behavior.
Jesus set the ultimate standard for holding to God’s Will. He is the ultimate example for us. His entire ministry can be seen as actions. He just did not just have nice speeches and messages, He physically lived His Message, which can be seen through His Actions. He expects us to do likewise. It is not good enough to just talking the talk, but we need to be walking the walk. It is one thing to say you are going to do something, it is quite another thing to actually perform those actions. Before you perform any sort of action, take a moment and stop and think about it. Ask if it is what God wants, if it lives up to something Jesus would do? If it isn’t, then don’t do it. If it is, then do it. If we are certain in our beliefs in the Gospel and know the concepts of the Gospel, we will translate that certainty into our actions which will strengthen our faith.
Jesus knew ahead of time where, how and when He would die. He knew with a 100 percent certainty it was going to be a physically and spiritually painful death, Yet, He also knew this was God’s Will that we might live. If He did this for you, how can you not follow Him wherever His Will takes you? And remember His Example, that He knew there would be physically and spiritually painful consequences yet acted anyway. He is the ultimate example for us to follow in perilous situations.
Recall Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on this day so many years ago. Only Jesus knew of the upcoming crucifixion; everyone else, including Jews, Romans and His followers, thought he was making a triumphant entrance in to the city to take control of things and kick the Roman occupation force out. It was almost a full moon, this was the year of the Messiah according to Daniel. The natural events were lining up as Scripture had predicted which preceded the arrival of the Messiah. Jesus chose the route into the city, through the King’s Gate. The people saw Him coming and met him at the Mount of Olives. When He came in through the King’s Gate, the people were expecting to see their future earthly king. However, they were incorrect, who they were seeing was and is their heavenly king. Jesus had no intentions of establishing a Kingdom of this World. He was looking for followers for the Kingdom of the Next World, of Heaven.
Sunday was a long awaited day for which Jews had waited four centuries. The Messiah had finally come, at the time predicted by scripture. They were under the mistaken perception that He had come to free them from the burdensome and cruel yoke of Roman rule. the week went on, they found that was not to be. He did not come to rule this world, but to bring us to His World. He came to give them the key to eternal salvation. This is a far more important gift than to have power temporarily for the short time of earthly life. This is more precious than any earthly jewel, riches or rainment one can ever find here on planet Earth. He came to take them from this veil of tears to a state of perfect freedom. They wanted someone to throw the Romans out and all God sent them was the key to eternal life. What a disappointment! But to us, it is not a disappointment.
It is a gift of great joy, the fact is we should be by all rights dead and headed for the pit, instead headed to a kingdom of joyfulness and laughter and all pleasant things, and a world that will be far better than our pitiful shadowland here. This is indeed the most valuable of all gifts we will ever receive in our lifetime.
By the way, the Chief Priests, who had so much invested in their 613 laws, likely searched far and wide for the crowd to convict Jesus of the crimes they imagined against their system. Their system, not God’s. Remember, there are none so blind as those who will not see. They would not see because what was being shown to them was a new way that would interfere with their comfortable way of living. A new way that asked of them, no demanded of them, accountability unto God for their actions. Know the crowd was notaself-forming group naturally set on condemning Jesus, but a handpicked gang. At the same time, many of those in the crowd who condemned Him the morning of Good Friday were in the crowd that welcomed Him to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. What a difference five days can make.
Make no mistake, we are that crowd. And, like Pilate, no matter what we say, we cannot wash our hands of the responsibility. Thus, we must separate ourselves from the crowd. Separate, that is to make ourselves holy, set aside.
When the time comes, how will you ACT?
It is by our actions we are known.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God
Friday, March 23, 2018
The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity.
ORD, we beseech thee, grant thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and with pure hearts and minds to follow thee, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle for today came from Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians beginning at the Fourth Verse of the First Chapter. Paul tells the people of Corinth he thanks God they have been the beneficiaries of His Grace, that through Jesus they might have salvation, that through Jesus their sins would in the end be forgiven. He also pointed out that if they would follow Christ in both their words and deeds, as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in them, through their actions, they would be “In every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge…” For by acting on Christ’s words, we not only gain entry in to heaven, but are far more likely to prosper here on earth. This prosperity is not the mega wealth sometimes associated with “prospering”, but rather the surplus of resources over our worldly desires and the true happiness that comes from loving and helping others.
thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today’s Holy Gospel came from the Twenty-Second Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew beginning at the Thirty-Fourth Verse. Pharisees who had heard how Jesus confounded the Sadducees, feeling they were superior to the Sadducees, came together to confound Him. An expert in the law, of which Pharisees were very fond, asked Him a question, trying to trick Him, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Thus, He provided the Summary of the Law we hear every Sunday. The Pharisees made their earthly living by providing guidance on how to get around the 613 Mosaic Laws with as little inconvenience as possible. They were astounded when Jesus boiled the intent of those laws down to two sentences. They were much more comfortable getting around laws than complying with ones that might inconvenience them.
Apparently tiring of the game with the Pharisees and wishing to confound them instead, Jesus asked them, saying, “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He?” They say unto him, “The son of David.” For the scripture is clear that He should be of the House of David. As God, Jesus has been from the beginning, so he queried them, “How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?” Not grasping the concept that God was, is and always will be, they could not answer and “from that day forth” no one would “ask him any more questions.”
hen the Pharisees had heard that Jesus had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.
Consider the words of the Collect, “…grant thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and with pure hearts and minds to follow thee, the only God …”
When you hear the word GRACE, what do you think of?
· · Help;
· Heavenly dispensation;
· A gift freely granted;
· The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
The word can be any of these, it comes from Middle English: via Old French from Latin gratia, from gratus ‘pleasing, thankful’ and is related to grateful.
In this case we are asking God’s help, for which He charges nothing, except our faith and loyalty to Him, to withstand the temptations of this world. We ask for help to withstand what? Actually, what we are looking for is help to not follow our own devices and desires. We are asking for help to withstand temptations that not only come from external sources, but also from internal sources, namely our hearts and minds. This seems like an odd request, until one considers the fact that our own devices and desires are the root of all of our troubles. We are naturally inclined to the sinful things which separate us from Our Lord. We are simply requesting help in combating the evil desires of our heart that would separate us for all eternity if they were left unchecked. We are simply asking for help to make His Will our will. To help us to do what will make us happy and not just what we think fun, but to be permanently happy, which boils down to following His Word. For we know that we ourselves will not do what His Will is of our own volition, but rather we must ask God to plant the seed of His Will on our hearts so that we will do it.
Paradoxically, we are asking for help to do not what we want, but what is best for us. There is a difference between what we want, and what is best for us, as there is a difference between the words want and need. What we want and what is best for us are not necessarily interchangeable. We often confuse wanting something with needing something, when that something we want is not something we truly need and or is good for us. We are asking God’s Help to make us want to do what He wants us to do, so that not only will we have “fun”, but be happy! We are also asking His help to see what is good and needed for us, to help us clarify the difference between things that are needed and those we want, and to see what is bad and not helpful.
We are, in short, asking for His guidance to guide us to the path of being truly happy and not just having a fun time. For, being happy is far more important and helps our spiritual lives more than the temporary state of fun. Fun only lasts a few moments, happiness lasts forever. There is a distinct difference between the two states of being. Fun is short lived while happiness can carry on through periods of time be it days, months or years. On the surface, it does not really seem all that reasonable, but here we are imperfect creatures with free will! The free will sometimes, or rather most of the time, seems more like a curse than a blessing, at least to me.
Using it properly to follow God’s will is what free will was intended by God to lead us to. He intended for us to follow Him willingly without any coercion whatsoever. He wants each and every one of us to come to His throne willingly and with all of our heart souls and mind for Him. He will give us the help of the Holy Spirit, His guidance to withstand all the trials and temptations this world throws our way. We have to have confidence in Him and be able and willing to listen to that guidance to help us through these periods of temptation and difficulty in our lives.
So, when Paul writes the people of Corinth, it is not just them, but us for whom he thanks God we have been the beneficiaries of His Grace, that through Jesus we might have salvation, that through Jesus our sins would in the end be forgiven. We are not made perfect by Jesus. That is a common misconception among non-Christians. It would be convenient if we were made perfect. This is an issue which sorely needs addressing in today’s church, to combat the misperceptions of the non-Christians. The common complaint most non-Christians have of Christians is that we have a holier than thou attitude. There may be some indeed who have this attitude, which is simply an illustration of imperfection.
People who have the misconception that Christians are made perfect are shocked when Christians act less than perfectly, so they just presume the faith is false. There is nowhere in the Bible that states when we become Christians, we are magically made perfect. But this is not so. They fail to realize Christians are no more perfect than non-believers, as we are all human and all are sinful creatures. We just realize this fact more than non-believers do. They fail to consider although we are not perfect, our faith is in the One who is perfect and we seek guidance from Him. We may fail from time to time, but as long as we keep returning to Him, it will be all right. They fail to realize we are just trying to be perfect the best we can, but we won’t be perfect, but that does not mean we can’t give up. They are blinded by not having the Holy Ghost’s guidance in their heart.
The world confuses our righteous judgment of the world’s behavior with a holier than thou attitude. But they do not see we realize we are not perfect, but we are striving for perfection. And there would be no point behind Christianity if that we had been made perfect. If we were made perfect, then there would be no strife in the world today I believe; thus no reason to even have any of the parables Jesus gave. This is simply not so! While we are accounted as perfect before God in the final judgment, we are not perfect at all. If anything, we are more conscious of our imperfection. And we are working harder than before to try to overcome it. We will not succeed, of course; but if we don’t try, then we will never get there.
As a side point, none of us is perfect, none of us is better than others; however, some of us are clearly worse than others. We certainly know more than those who do not believe we are fallen far short of the goal He expects from us, being in our fallen state, and we know how far we have to go to as get close to perfection as we possibly can. We need the help of the Almighty to travel on this path!
Which takes us to Paul’s next point; if we follow Christ in both out words and deeds, as the testimony of Christ is confirmed in them, through our actions, we will be “In every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge…” For by acting on Christ’s words, we not only gain eternal salvation, but are far more likely to prosper here on earth. This prosperity is not the mega wealth sometimes associated with “prospering”, but rather the surplus of resources over our worldly desires and the true happiness that comes from loving and helping others. It will make us far more happy than people like Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, etc, who have far more money than even they know what to do with, and money cannot provide true happiness. Only God and Jesus can step in and fill that role, if we let him into our hearts.
But, not everyone is content to take Jesus at His Word. After the Sadducees lost their round with Jesus, the Pharisees, feeling they were superior to the Sadducees, came together to trip Him up. However, as we know ourselves, one cannot trick God, and if you try, you will come out looking the fool. An expert in The Law, of which Pharisees were very fond, asked Him a question, trying to trick Him, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Thus, He provided the Summary of the Law we hear every Holy Communion.
The Pharisees made their earthly living by providing guidance on how to get around the 613 Mosaic Laws with as little inconvenience as possible. They were astounded when Jesus boiled the intent of those laws down to two sentences. They were much more comfortable getting around laws than complying with ones which might inconvenience them. They could be closely compared to lawyers today as a matter of fact, in the striking amount of dishonesty that is in their profession (no offense to the good lawyers!).
Boiling down the intent of the laws into those two sentences, gave the Pharisees a hard and fast law that for once, they could not find a loophole in. There is no way to get around the basic intent in the Summary of the Law, Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. The Pharisees would much rather follow the complicated system of the 613 laws than the simple, basic Summary of the Law. This is why they were so against Jesus’ ministry and why they wanted him dead. They didn’t want the Summary of the Law and Jesus’ teachings destroying their comfortable earthly living. This new way was a threat to their existence, because they could not find loopholes in it, because there were none. And plus Jesus was on to their dishonesty and was always pointing out the flaws in their thinking. He was a threat to them. They could or would not see that it was far better to follow the Summary of the Law than try to get around all 613 laws.
Apparently tiring of the game with the Pharisees and wishing to confound them instead, Jesus asked them, saying, “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He?” They say unto him, “The son of David.” For the scripture is clear that He should be of the House of David. As God, Jesus has been from the beginning, so he queried them, “How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?” Not grasping the concept that God was, is and always will be, they could not answer and “from that day forth” no one would “ask him any more questions.” They realized that they could not trick him with any more questions and that it only made them look bad when He answered them.
There have always been and always will be people who want to pick nits with the intent of avoiding doing what should be done, thus making it seems acceptable to do what they want to do. You can see people every day who fill the shoes of the Pharisees, insisting on complying with arcane and useless rules and regulations while studiously avoiding doing what God so clearly asks, that is to be a Christian and do as Christ asks us to do. People are always going to avoid doing what God wants us to do, that is in our nature. You can see this as the government attempts to replace the Rule of God with the rule of man. When a group of men believe that they have the right to control other humans with the rule of man and disregard the rule of God, you know that a society is in trouble. Ask Sodom, Gomorrah, Rome, Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan how that worked out for them in the end. No country has ever fared well when it replaces God with the rule of Man. We are to be Christians, not “good”, to do what God asks, not Go with the Flow! When you think about being a Christian, consider these quotes from GK Chesterton:
· Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.
· The word good has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.
· The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.
· Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.
· A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.
G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
We are called to a new and different life, we ask the Lord, in His Grace, to lead us and follow us, to keep us always. Our goal is to do the Lord’s will, not to avoid 613 laws or to replace Him altogether. To do what is right, no matter how hard that may be and be humble. This is the summary of what the Christian life should be all about.
Action, not diction, is what counts. It is by your actions you are known.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God