The Propers for today are found on Page 199-200, with the Collect first:
The Eighth Sunday after Trinity.
GOD, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; We humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Ryan Hopkins read the Epistle, which came from Paul’s letter to the Romans, the Eighth Chapter, beginning at the Twelfth Verse. Paul tells us to live out our lives as Jesus instructed us to. If we live as we want, we die and are gone. If we live as Jesus commanded, we will live through to eternity. Life is not about here, it is about doing well enough here so we can get there. If we want the fruits of the heirship we have been given, we must live the part:
RETHREN, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Deacon Striker Jack Arnold read today’s Holy Gospel which started in the Seventh Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, beginning at the Fifteenth Verse. Matthew records the warning that so few heed. Many leaders talk a good line, but how do they actually act, particularly in private? For it is private when none are looking that we are revealed. If you want to get to heaven, you have to act the part, not just talk about it.
EWARE of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Sermon – Time and Action
Today’s sermon tied the Epistle and Gospel together talked as is oft the case of the need for action, not simply diction, the general content is in forewords above.
Because they were so great and so on topic, we have printed both Bishop Campbell’s sermon for the day and Bishop Ogles’ piece on the Gospel. Please take the time to read them. They are both superb!
Devotion for 8th Sunday after Trinity 14 August 2011 Anno Domini
"15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt 7:15-21)
Jesus has just finished giving strong counsel, in the previous three verses, to the people of the end of the Law. "12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matt 7:12-14) All that the Law and Prophets have taught has been to the end of love and concern for thy neighbor. The Scribes, Pharisees, and elders have turned the Law of God on its head and have added grievous burdens thereon to soak away all the joy of life. They have made the Law an instrument of oppression. Even so, since we are not able to perfectly keep the Law, it has become a curse for man. The Law and Prophets of the Old Testament end with the word `curse' (Malachi 4:6) for that is the Law to man. It has been so since the Garden at Eden.
Christ, in verses 12-14 above has given us a positive instruction on how we might live gloriously and in righteousness; however, He will now give caution on what we must be alert to and avoid: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." God came down in human form in the essence of a Lamb to save us from our sins, but false prophets, as ravening wolves come in the false garb of lambs to devour us ere we know the Light of Christ! Please do not consider these false prophets to be rare in the church today for they are not! "4….Take heed that no man deceive you. 5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. (Matt 24:4-11) Please remember the unnatural growth of the Mustard Tree (Matt 13:32) in whose branches the birds (demons) came to roost. Observe also the word `many' used by our Lord in describing the prevalence of these false prophets – there shall be MANY! And observe, too, that there will be MANY who are deceived by their false witness.
"Ye shall know them by their fruits." Our Lord speaks in such simple, yet powerfully accurate terms. What can be more simple and logical than judging a tree by its fruits? Why would we assume that the fruits of men would not identify the worth of their words and works? "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" Many of the poor and simple sinners who were touched by Christ came to know these simple truths to a far greater measure than all of the school-trained doctors of Israel. Perhaps the reason resides in the false pride that sometimes attends the letters one has been privileged to receive through sophisticated academia. Serious learning does not lead to pride, but humility, for the more we learn of God, the more we realize what little knowledge we really possess.
"Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit." The doctrine of God is the good tree represented in His ministers and people. The fruit is the results of that doctrine lived out in a humble and contrite heart. "But a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit." The leaven of the Pharisees of which the Lord warned us is false doctrine. This false doctrine bears fruit which embitters the soul and quenches the Spirit. "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." (Matt 16:6) "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." It is not possible for peach trees to bear crab apples any more than it is possible for a crab apple tree to bring forth peaches. The teaching of Christ is so basic that even a child can grasp its meaning while the philosophers and professors often will not deign to lower their minds to a matter so simple! How I envy the privilege that the young lady, Mary of Bethany, enjoyed while sitting at the very feet of the Master!
We are all born of a Seed – either that of Abraham (ultimately, Christ), or that of Cain (ultimately, the Deceiver). "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." If we are believers in false doctrine, our works will reflect that resulting false character. We will be fruit of that bad Tree in the midst of the Garden of which Christ warned us not to eat. If we believe in the sincere milk of the Word of God, our works will reflect that faith and we will be Seed of the Tree of Life which is Christ. Rather than being the fruit which is cast into the fire, I pray all who read this commentary will be the fruit which will be had in the celestial City of New Jerusalem.
Please do not consider a casual faith and living to be the kind that will suffice in living for Christ. We must cast aside our casual styles of belief and practice and take up our cross daily and follow Christ. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Many who have never missed a Sunday in church will also not miss an eternity in Hell. If the great number of church attendees in America sincerely believed with power and hope, how could our society be falling to such dire lows? The great distress of society in America is not a result of unbelievers in our midst, but result directly from a Laodicean Church mentality whose faith is luke-warm and whose holiness is contrived and not genuine. Every Lord's Day, we of the Anglican Communion worldwide repeat the Lord's Prayer. How oft have we repeated the line in that prayer which says: "They Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven." Is this simply a repetition from rote memory, or is it repeated with a deep, spiritual conviction? Have we taken the Lord's Name in vain by praying in that Name without conviction?
It would be incomplete to conclude the devotion today without noting the two verses from Matthew 7 that follow today's lectionary reading: "22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matt 7:22-23) There are many prominent clergy and laypeople today who are held in high esteem for their well known preaching and apparent works against the devil. They have preached convincing sermons in the name of Christ couched in smooth and lovely speech, but which lack the deeper truth of Christ. These are wells without water, and wandering stars with no fixed place in the ether of space. High sounding words and elaborate cunning will not gain the gate, for the path is that broad way that leads in the opposite direction from life. Many are thereon. The Way we must seek is the simple Way – the straight Way that is not adorned with vain accoutrements. This Way is less traveled and often evokes the sneers of those on that broad, political way that leads down to destruction. Which Way are you traveling, friend?
Bishop Dennis Campbell
Today’s Sunday Report has a guest sermon by Bishop R. Dennis Campbell. Bishop Dennis is one of the smartest people I know and is very good at expressing biblical concepts in terms we can understand. He often preaches a wonderful sermon on one of my favorite topics – ACTS. Action, not diction. Today is one of those times!
Profits and Prophets
Eighth Sunday after Trinity
14 August 2011
I want to begin with something that is very important for all Christians to understand today. The Gospel reading for this morning says, "Beware of false prophets which come in sheep's clothing but inwardly they are ravening wolves." When Christ was speaking there were prophets living on the earth. John the Baptist was a prophet. Christ Himself was a prophet. And even in the early New Testament Church there were prophets, their ministry was markedly different from that of the Old Testament prophets, but they did exist and minister at that time. If that is true, then why do we not have prophets in the Church today? I am not a prophet, and I am not a priest, at least not in the sense of an Old Testament priest. Now I know we Anglicans sometimes call our clergy "priests" but that's because we are using a shortened version of a word that has come down to us from Greek through French, and it is the word for "elder." The word is "presbyter." So were not talking about a human priest in the New Testament that has the same function as the priest in the Old Testament. Why? Because in the Old Testament, the priest was, at least, symbolically, a mediator. Of course we all know that no human being can ever be a true mediator between God and man. The priest in the Old Testament was a shadow, a figure, a forerunner, and a symbol. He was a sign, like a traffic sign, that points us to the real Priest, the Great High Priest, and the only real Priest that we have, and that is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That's why I don't often refer to myself as a priest. I call myself a minister or a presbyter, or a bishop, but I rarely refer to myself as a priest, because people today think of a priest as a minister in the Roman Catholic Church, whom they believe actually has a mediatory role between people and God. That's why the Catholics go to confession; they believe the priest is a mediator who has power to absolve and forgive their sins. You notice that in none of our services do I say, "I absolve you." I say, "God absolves all who truly repent and unfeignedly believe His holy Gospel." I never say God has given me power to remit sins. I say, "He has given to His ministers the power to pronounce to His people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins." It is God, not man who forgives sin. So it is not I, it is God, and I am not a mediatory priest. The reason we don't have mediatory priests is because our High Priest is in Heaven.
Now, follow that same logic for a moment as we ask, "why don't we have prophets in the Church today?" The answer is, because we have one Prophet now and that prophet is in Heaven. Our Prophet is Jesus Christ; therefore, we no longer need human prophets.
Listen to this; "God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son" (Heb. 1:1-2). Why don't we have prophets anymore? Because The Prophet has come. The Prophet, who, in Himself fulfills the role of all the prophets, and speaks the Word of God in truth and in perfection, has come. He has spoken to us, and His revelation is recorded for us right here in Holy Scripture. So we don't need prophets anymore. We don't need people to give us new revelation, and if someone comes to you and calls himself a prophet, trust the word of God, that the person is not a prophet. Our Prophet is Jesus Christ; His prophecy is in the book we call the Holy Bible. We need no other.
Having said that, let's talk about things that are profitable and unprofitable. We're talking now about profits spelled, p-r-o-f-i-t, not p-r-o-p-h-e-t. Romans reminds us that some actions lead to death. This "death" is a spiritual condition toward God, which Romans describes in other places as being under God's wrath and condemned to suffer for sin forever. Some actions lead us into spiritual death. Other actions lead to life, which is also a spiritual condition meaning "peace with God." The Gospel, Matthew 7:15 and following, warns us that ideas can also lead us to life or death. False doctrine kills, while truth brings life. So, false prophets lead us into death., while those who proclaim the truth of God, lead us into life. I emphasize here that it is not the person but the message that brings life. It follows then that, if God is going to put away from us all hurtful things, some of the first things that will have to go are things we have taken into ourselves by our own free choice, and that these things will include both actions and ideas. These things lead us into the spiritual condition of death. Now, I realise that we are all born into this spiritual death, so don't jump on me when I say sin leads us into spiritual death. So understand that I know this and understand that this truth is the foundation of what the Bible is talking about in our readings for today, especially our reading in Romans. It also follows that the profitable things God will give us will also be things of both thought and deed.
We know about the bad things. We know how they kill souls and destroy lives. If we do not understand this we cannot call ourselves Christians. If we do not understand the wickedness of sin, especially our own sin, we must admit that we are outside of Christ and still in our sin. For one of the distinguishing character traits of a true Christian is the recognition of the sinfulness of sin and its devastating effects. This understanding results in a holy hatred of our own sin. The true Christian "acknowledges and bewails" his "manifold sins and wickedness," and is "heartily sorry for these our misdoings." "The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; the burden of them is intolerable."
The person who is not a Christian has a very different attitude toward sin. He may be indifferent to it. He may adamantly insist that it is not sin. He may even have a genuine regret for the moral decline of the country, and for some of his own actions. But to hate sin as God hates it; to root it out of his life like weeds in a garden, to "earnestly repent" this he cannot and will not do.
The true Christian loves God above all things, even above his own life. Today, the Eighth Sunday after Trinity, is sandwiched between the days of Saint James and Saint Bartholemew. I don't talk about "Saints" much, because some might get the idea that we in the Anglican Orthodox Church venerate saints, or pray to them, or think they somehow mediate for us with God. We don't venerate them, and they don't mediate for us. Christ is our mediator, why would we bother with anyone less than Christ when He has given Himself for us and ever liveth to intercede? Besides, a "saint" in the Bible is anyone who is a true believer and true Christian. So it is proper to talk about the Gospel according to St. John, or an Epistle of St. Paul. But it is also proper to talk about all the rest of us as saints, and we see the Bible doing just that in many places. Sainthood is not an office granted by the Church, it is a condition of the soul purchased for us by the sacrificial life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and received by us through Biblical faith. To be "saved," is to be a saint. St. James was one of the first martyrs. He was killed for the "crime" of being a Christian, and the reason the Anglican Church still talks about such people is that they are good examples of faithful, Christian living. They loved Christ more than life. They wanted God more than they wanted anything else, and they were willing to turn away from everything that impeded their communion with Him. The lesson here is this; death is not a hurtful thing, hell is a hurtful thing. Life that is empty of meaning and hope is a hurtful thing. Life that has no purpose higher than the pleasures of the world and the flesh is a hurtful thing. Life that is controlled by attitudes, thoughts, and actions that are self-destructive or bring sorrow to the marital relationship, the familial relationship, and other relationships all the way from the inner personal to interpersonal to international relationships, are hurtful things. And anything that disrupts the relationship with God is a hurtful thing. May God truly "put away from us" these things. And, may He "give us those things which are profitable for us."
Let me talk for a moment about just what we are praying for in this Collect, for this is the emphasis of this week in our cycle of prayer. What are these profitable things? First we are praying for holy living. We are praying for some good, old fashioned Godliness. We're not talking here about thrills and chills, or smells and bells, or happy clappy times in Church. We are not talking here about health and wealth and popularity in the world. We are talking about loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We are talking about love for God that goes far beyond mere emotions; love that is expressed more in actions than in feelings, love that leads us to keep His commandments, not in order that we may earn His favour or escape His wrath, but for the sheer joy of pleasing Him.
Second, we are asking God to give us right understanding, or, right doctrine. Yes, I know people don't want to hear about doctrine anymore. They want to "experience God" and they want "practical" sermons about dealing with stress and achieving their dreams. But notice how different this is from the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles in Scripture. They majored on doctrine, and Christ Himself warned us against false prophets and false teaching. Right doctrine builds up God's people. Right understanding of God leads to right understanding of self and world, and life. But more importantly, right understanding teaches us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
God, whose never failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; we humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.