Verse of the Day

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Trinity Sunday - Fathers Day

Today was Trinity Sunday, the beginning of the Endless Green Season, the liturgical color is white, thus the green outlined white letters of the title!  We were slightly cooler than usual for this time of year with a sunrise temperature of 44°F here in Descanso.

Trinity Joke[1]
Jesus said, “Whom do men say that I am?”

And his disciples answered and said, “Some say you are John the Baptist returned from the dead; others say Elias or other of the old prophets.”

And Jesus answered and said, “But whom do you say that I am?”

Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Logos[2], existing in the Father as His rationality and then, by an act of His will, being generated, in consideration of the various functions by which God is related to his creation, but only on the fact that Scripture speaks of a Father, and a Son, and a Holy Spirit, each member of the Trinity being coequal with every other member, and each acting inseparably with and interpenetrating every other member, with only an economic subordination within God, but causing no division which would make the substance no longer simple."

And Jesus answering, said, "Say what?"[3]

Fathers Day
Today we prayed for our fathers, those who are with us and those who have gone before us and brought us to this point in our lives.

Fathers Day is a day we celebrate the role of fathers in our lives.  It is normally a day of joy and congratulations.  But, it is more than that, it is a reminder of what a father’s role should be.  A father is to be the spiritual head of the family, a provider of both spiritual and earthly needs, the protector, commander, president, judge and most of all - the leader.  To lead, you must be ahead of those you lead.  Lead means, follow me; not, head that way.  A father must live his life for his family.  The role comes with privileges, but the privileges are granted only to those who fulfill the responsibilities.  Those responsibilities are awesome, but the rewards incredible.  Yet, as a father, I assure you, in the words of Paul, we all fall short.  But that does not mean we should give up, but rather we must redouble our efforts.

I share with you a poem in a Fathers Day card I received.  I can tell you I have fallen short, but it is clear from the card what I must do in the coming year:

Only A Dad
Edgar A. Guest[4]

Only a dad with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame
To show how well he has played the game;
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come and to hear his voice.

Only a dad with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd,
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad but he gives his all,
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing with courage stern and grim
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen:
Only a dad, but the best of men.

From the book "A Heap o' Livin'" ©1916

When we remember our fathers, we remember not only those who brought us into this world, but also those who have gone before.  We stand here in the present only on the shoulders of those whose actions and leadership got us here.  As fathers we know we are not perfect, nor were our fathers, nor theirs.  For the sins of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. Exodus 34.7 We need be mindful of that when we live our lives.  We serve as a model for our children and grandchildren, as well as others who see our lives.  Living as a father gives one greater tolerance for the errors of their fathers and an appreciation for the pressure they were under.  One can only marvel at the job they did.

M
ay God grant each father the strength to live their life in a manner consistent with our duty as a father, husband, brother; and to fulfill the promise we made to God and Family when we accepted the role as a father.  We, each of, us fall short, but ask God God’s help to meet the challenge, in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen

God • Honor • Country • Family

On Point
Someone asked, where do the quotes come from?  The answer is from the people who uttered them.  But, how did you find them?  Oh, that.  Some from Bishop Jerry, many from Rev Bryan Dabney, a few from other places, some from Rev Geordie Menzies-Grierson, but overall mostly from Bryan.  He always has some great ones to share.  On to the On Point quotes –

In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.
Psalm 120:1

Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.
Proverbs 21:13

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.
St. Matthew 24:23-25

And Jesus said unto him, No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
St. Luke 9:62

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
I St. Timothy 2:8

Death is... a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones already dwell. The distance between glorified spirits in heaven and militant saints on earth seems great; but it is not so. We are not far from home— a moment will bring us there... When the eyes close on earth they open in heaven.
Charles H. Spurgeon
19th century English Baptist theologian and author
(Morning and Evening, p. 222)

Jesus Christ has already paid the sacrificial price for our sins. The great tragedy is that millions of people choose not to reap the benefits of his sacrifice.
Dr. Grant Jeffrey
20th and 21st century Canadian Christian author

Thousands will crowd to hear a new voice and a new doctrine, without considering for a moment whether what they hear is true. There is an incessant craving after any teaching which is sensational, and exciting, and rousing to the feelings. There is an unhealthy appetite for a sort of spasmodic and hysterical Christianity. The religious life of many is little better than spiritual dram-drinking, and the meek and quiet spirit which St. Peter commends is clean forgotten (I Pet. 3:4).
JC  Ryle
19th century Anglican bishop and author
(Holiness, pp. xxxiiii-xxxiv)

The Church of England has passed through the looking glass. It has moved into an unpredictable, unstable situation. The doctrines of faith are no longer ring- fenced as many people thought. Anything can, in principle, be changed by lobbying and political manoevering. It has been done and it will be done again. The Church of England is now in crisis because it has now been destablised. It has set itself over the Word of God instead of under it. It is no longer, [as] Article XX ... puts it, ‘a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ’, but it has now assumed the role of judge and arbiter of its doctrines. This is a position it ought not to occupy, nor can it occupy, without drawing down upon itself the judgement of God.
Rev. David Samuel
20th and 21st century Anglican theologian and author
(The Church In Crisis, pp. 48-49)

The Devil’s power is greatly and strangely enhanced by his system of worship, which, while it degrades, fascinates many people. The system of pagan worship and devotion is very powerful. It holds its devotees by iron chains. It is not a work of chance, and it does not spring from native religious instincts. It is a system of rare power and skill constructed by a graduate in the craft of seduction and delusion. Satan’s hand is at the root of all pagan worship — planning, ordering, and inspiring it. It is this fact that gives it strength and influence.
EM Bounds
19th and 20th century American theologian and author
(Guide To Spiritual Warfare, p. 88)

Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.
George Orwell
20th century English author

Under Socialism, it is the spectre of demographics that haunts Europe. It is dead children, no longer killed in factories or protests, but in clinics and for convenience’s sake, that float aimlessly through the streets of Munich, London and Paris. Europe is no longer haunted by its dead, but by those who were never born. Socialism has left behind a terrible bill and there is no one left to pay it. The population is crashing in every Western country... The state replaced the family. It told men and women that they no longer needed to make permanent commitments... So long as they paid their taxes, the state would bear the burden of their commitments. And so men and women gave up on each other, parents gave up on their children and children on their parents, the family fell apart and now the state that took its place is also falling apart... When a civilization destroys its families, then it destroys itself. A man cannot cut out his own heart and live. A society cannot destroy its own capacity for life and regeneration, and continue... Like Saturn [the Roman god], the progressive revolution has devoured its own children leaving behind only the empty hallways and empty treasuries of the state.
Daniel Greenfield
21st century American commentator
(Twilight of the Family, 6-1-14)

Propers
The Propers for today are found on Page 186-188, with the Collect first:

Trinity Sunday.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.

This morning’s Epistle was written in the Fourth Chapter of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine beginning at the First Verse.  John attempts to show us the majesty and glory of heaven using words.  The picture he paints is intended to be awe inspiring and seems to meet that goal handily:

A
FTER this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes before and behind. And the first was like a lion, and the second like a calf, and the third had a face as a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created.

Today’s Gospel came from the Third Chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John beginning at the First Verse:

T
HERE was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.




Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
Bishop Jerry is on travel to Kenya with Executive Secretary Betty Hoffman and Rev Jack Arnold to welcome the church their into the Anglican Orthodox Worldwide Communion.  He thoughtfully left a sermon originally written for Trinity Sunday 2012.  It starts off with the collect, and like always, it will give you a lot to consider in your heart.

Sermon Notes
Trinity Sunday
St Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church
3 June 2012, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)

Trinity Sunday.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.

T
HERE was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.  (John 3:1-16)

     Today’s text is about the change of the heart that we call regeneration.

     Precisely what IS regeneration and how does it occur?

     Regeneration is not merely an IMPROVEMENT of character brought about through effort and study of classical philosophy, or even of the study of God’s Word.  Regeneration is that complete change of character that occurs through the process of being born anew in Christ. Anything that is born is a new creature. Anything that is born anew is also a new creature whose former character and habits have disappeared. – or even died with the old self (which was also dead before coming to Christ).  It is not an improvement of disposition, but a fundamental change in nature.

     There was once a drop of water that found itself puddle in a dirty and unsavory gutter drain.  It was constantly subject to being spat upon and frequented by mosquitoes laying their larvae in the water.  The little drop of water looked everyday up to the beautiful blue skies above and yearend, for once, to be clean and pure, and separated from the filth of the gutter. The yearning of its heart was heard in heaven, and the warmth of the sun began to draw the small droplet up, up, and away from the filth it had always known. Being drawn higher and higher, the air around the droplet was no longer foul and smelly, but clear and pristine. Yet, it was drawn still higher by the force of the sun to levels of colder and colder air. The winds took up the droplet of water and carried it far away where it became a beautiful, white snowflake. It was deposited on the heights of Mt. Everest where its beauty could be seen, mingled with other snowflakes, for many miles around. The droplet of water, transformed by the power of Heaven, had moved from the lowest and dirtiest place, to the highest and most beautiful on earth. That is regeneration, and that is the power of God to make new the soul of man.

1. There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night

     We see a contrast being drawn in the text between a man of great power, wealth, and learning; and the Lord Jesus Christ who did not have a place to lay His head. Nicodemus was an influential member of the ruling Sanhedrin. He was a Pharisee who truly sought more knowledge. But Nicodemus was also keen to the politics of the day and did not wish to be exposed as someone who would be an admirer of Chrsit – at least not until he had come to know Him for the Lord that He was. So Nicodemus came under cover of darkness.

     Earlier in the day, Nicodemus had seen Christ drive out the money changers and those who made merchandise of the House of God. He had heard, that day, His strange but refreshing counsel: Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. (John 2:16) He had heard the profound and beautiful teachings of Christ and seen His miracles. His logical mind could not deny that Jesus had strange powers that could only come from God, unlike those political posers who sat with him of the Sanhedrin.

     If we desire to know a man better, we must find out where He is and talk with him. Nicodemus obviously had scouted out Christ to know where He was sleeping in Jerusalem that first Passover of Christ’s ministry.

……… and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him

      Nicodemus has the least seed of faith in his heart, but it was enough to drive him to Christ. He recognized the power of God in Christ and he must settle the issue before the dawning of another day. Though he comes here at night, he later publicly defends Christ in the Sanhedrin (John 7:50-52) and even publicly goes with Joseph of Arimethaea to claim the body of Christ for burial even under threat of retribution from Rome and the Jewish rulers (John 19:39). The one who came by night later became one who feared no one but God. John considers the change in Nicodemus so significant that he always makes reference to Nicodemus in later references as “he who came to Jesus by night.”

     Jesus is frank in His approach to Nicodemus. He knows the heart of Nicodemus, and He knows that complete transparency and blunt truth is the very thing Nicodemus desires.

     Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Jesus tells Nicodemus what he desperately NEEDS to know, not that which his ears would have been comforted to hear. Nicodemus is considered himself to be a great teacher, yet he calls Christ RABBI., or Teacher. Nicodemus is not too proud to accept the role of student before superior knowledge of a better Teacher. But these words of Christ are simply too amazing for Nicodemus to grasp.

     4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? This is not a frivolous response by Nicodemus. He does not ask WHY, but HOW. If Jesus were making reference to the Gentiles, Nicodemus could have understood somewhat, but Jesus is speaking to a ruler of the Jews – the presumed people of God! To Nicodemus, it does not make sense, but he trusts in the superior wisdom of Christ to shed light on the matter. Our first longings of faith must be satisfied through deeper inquiry even if we risk ridicule by the world.

    5. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again Nicodemus belonged to a religion that based salvation upon a complete obedience to the Law written on Tables of Stone. It was a difficult concept to to receive that his entire previous training had been lacking. Christ points to a change that is alien to Nicodemus’ thinking. There is the story of an owner of a clothing store that decided to clean his main display window. He gathered his cleaning materials and went outside to clean. After working diligently, the window appeared immaculate with the exception of a single troubling blemish high up on the glass. Regardless the efforts and elbow grease used to clean the spot, it remained a glaring flaw in an otherwise clear glass. At last he discovered that the dirty blemish was not on the outside, but the INSIDE of the glass. Regardless our efforts to dress and beautify our persons, we cannot cleanse the heart by dressing the outward appearance with good works. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalms 51:7) God cleans us inside first with the purgative of the Holy Spirit ere making our appearance clean on the outside. If the heart is full of filth, it matters not the outward APPEARANCE.

     When we lay down this life, we lay down the body of flesh before our parents who gave us our traits and hereditary and features of flesh. We then are drawn in the spirit back to the Father who gave us the Spirit of Life. Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Eccl 12:6-7)

      8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Does any man have the key to the gate of the wind, to open and close as he deems fit? The Wind is no different in certain aspects than the Holy Spirit. We do not know the source of the wind, but we KNOW it has a source. We can hear the wind if we are quiet and attentive. It literally whispers as that still, small voice of God. (1 Kings 19:12) We cannot say its direction or where it is going.  The Wind is unseen just as the Holy Spirit is unseen. We see its effects, but not its essence. Those who are born of God have been touched by that Wind of the Holy Spirit. Their change is complete and not prideful in display.

    Can you imagine Nicodemus’ eyes squinting in effort to understand this strange new doctrine? . 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things

Nicodemus is very much like many who are educated in theology and who press a point of an olive until it becomes a watermelon. He is well educated but, unfortunately, in things that are not real. Jesus points out his ignorance to him. Many prominent theologians of our day lack the simple wisdom of a poor farmer who knows the Lord. This was Nicodemus’ problem, but he is open to amendment in understanding. I wish we all were.

     11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? Jesus places His evidence before the bar. He taught often in parables so that the simple farmer or fisherman could grasp greater spiritual truth when illustrated by earthly logic. But those educated too much in ‘theological error’ may not be able to grasp the simplicity of the Gospel which a child can easily grasp. It is not faith and knowledge that saves us, but ‘faith in Christ’ and right knowledge of Him. We may know the print in a thousand theological works, but if we lack the nature of a little child in faith, we are lost.

     13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. Despite the delusional dreams and copyrighted commercial works of many today, no one has ascended to heaven or come down but Christ.
     14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. God sent fiery serpents among the Children of Israel in the Wilderness for their sins. When they pleaded for relief, God told Moses to erect a brass serpent on a pole for all to look unto when bitten that they might live.  The serpent represented our sins that are crucified on the cross with Christ. Looking to the sacrifice of Christ, for our own sins, we are saved from eternal death. (Numbers 21:6-9) We have the same symbolized in the medical kadusa today.

     16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life Do not be deceived by modern versions of the Bible such as the NIV. Jesus Christ is the literal ISSUE of the Father. He is God because He is of the same substance with God. Not a son or daughter through the adoption that we are, but the true and issuing Son of the Father – the only Begotten, not One and Only!

Sermon – Reverend Hap Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon was on the basic concept of the Triune God, that is the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and how they were introduced to us through time and the Bible in particular. Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

Consider these words from the Collect:

acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity

In the Collect, we acknowledge that there is a Triune God, that is three aspects of God; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.  A Triune God, that is Three in One, not three separate Gods or godlets, but a single being with three aspects.  How does this work?

The honest answer is – WE DON’T KNOW.  We just have been told there are three and They are ONE.  We know how parts of the thing work, but not all.  One of the basic principles of classified information is NEED TO KNOW.  Like many secrets, we don’t really have a need to know, so we have not been told.  We know:

·      God is I AM;
·      God the Father sent The Son to be our Savior;
·      The Holy Ghost breathed life into the world, and brings understanding, comfort, strength, perseverance, courage, inspiration.
·      They all have always been and always will be. 

A lot we don’t know, but we can certainly be kept busy with what we do know.  That must be enough for the here and now. We must be content with what we read in Scripture, all the other stuff we wonder about Him is just extraneous details, like how many angels are dancing on the head of a pin! We must put aside the thoughts of what God is, and just understand that He is I AM, and that there is God, there is the Son, and there is the Holy Ghost and they all work together in their own way to be the one God of our faith. There is a reason for this even though we don’t know it, but it works out, so we do not have to wonder how it works, we just continue believing and acting!

But, what of later?  If we have eternal life, we have it now and later.  What comes later?  Heaven.  What is heaven?  John attempts to tell us.  He attempts to show us the majesty and glory of heaven using words.  The picture he paints is intended to be awe inspiring and seems to meet that goal handily.  The main thing we can be certain of is that we will not be disappointed.  We speculate as to will this or that be in heaven?  When we get there the answer will manifest itself and you will have no regrets.  In heaven there is no disappointment.  Heaven is the real world, where things are bright, not dull and dark as though looking through a glass. Rest assured, we will see for ourselves what it is like one day, all we need to know is that it is a really wonderful place that we should be aiming to go to when we die, through our belief and actions here on earth working together!

So, how do we get to the real world from these Shadowlands?  There is but one way, the Einbahnstra├če.

Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins.[5]

Do not be fooled by “fair”, there is only one way into heaven.  That door is at the end of a long and narrow trail, steeply inclined upward with many seemingly beautiful and interesting branches leading downward into the pit.  Doing good is good, so to speak; doing good without God is not good enough.  Only being accounted perfect will get you up the path and in the door.

We need help!  Lots of help.  The first thing we need in our hearts is a new heart, a new and contrite heart.  That is really hard, in fact, it is so hard it cannot be done by ourselves.  We need something.  A new start.

We must be born of the spirit!  What spirit? 

The Holy Ghost.  We must accept that we in and of ourselves will never be perfect.  No one gets in to heaven unless they are accounted as perfect.  We will never be perfect in and of ourselves.  Should we quit trying?  Not, we are commanded to follow our Christ.  Will we fail?  Without question.  What is the solution?  To believe and follow the Christ.  To open our hearts to the Holy Ghost that we might believe in full and accept the help from the Christ that our imperfection needs to be His followers.

To follow God, we need Christ as our leader and the Holy Ghost as our compass. In short, we need all members of the Trinity’s influence in our lives if we are to arrive in the real world, that of Heaven.

There is but one way to heaven.

That easy to find, easy to follow, easy to hike path does not lead to the summit where eternal life in the real world awaits.  Open your heart to the Holy Ghost, use His Power to follow our Lord to God who awaits in heaven.

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Bishop Dennis Campbell’s Sermon
Bishop Dennis is a brilliant speaker.  He is able to take biblical precepts and make them perfectly understandable, even to me.  Oft he provides the text of his sermons and I take the utmost pleasure in passing them on:

Why the Trinity Matters
1 Peter 1:2
Trinity Sunday
June 15, 2014

There are a lot of Anglican churches named after the Holy Trinity.  C.S. Lewis was a member of Holy Trinity Church in Oxford, England.  The Reverend Charles Simeon, who was one of the influential evangelical ministers in the Anglican Church, served at Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge.  William Shakespeare was a member of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford upon Avon, England. There is a Holy Trinity Anglican Church in London, another in Yorkshire, another in Alberta Canada, and another in Winnipeg. and Alberta.  There are about a hundred of them in the United States, and there is one in Powhatan, Virginia.  What is so compelling about the Trinity that so many churches are named for it?  That’s what I want to talk about today.

Our Scripture Lessons give a good picture of the Trinity.  Isaiah, in the Temple, saw the Lord, one God, high and lifted up.  He didn’t se three Gods.  Only one.  We see here the truth given to us by God through Moses in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel; the Lord thy God is one Lord.”  This truth is stated throughout the Old Testament. It would not be too much to say that the entire Old Testament, and New Testament is built upon this one truth; our God is One.  It is very significant that the Hebrew word used in this verse means “one and only.” He is the one and only God.  But this one God, who calls Himself “He” as in a singular number in Genesis 1:5, also calls Himself “us” as in plural in Genesis 1:26.  “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”  So we are not surprised when we turn to 1 Peter 1: and find God referred to as one Being, saying we are “kept by the power of God.”  Nor are we surprised to find, in that same passage, that same one God is referred to as Father, Son, and Spirit (1 Pt. 1:2).  It sounds confusing to us because we are finite, and we cannot really comprehend God.  What we need to know about Him is given to us in the Bible.  But there is much more to Him than we read there, and we don’t even fully understand all of the Bible.  Its basic doctrines are clear and plain, but there are some things that still puzzle us after four thousand years of studying the Old Testament and two thousand years of studying the New Testament.  Even Peter said some things in Scripture are hard to understand and some people wrest, or twist them, to their own destruction.  The very popular idea that we can ignore two thousand years of Church teaching, and, with nothing but the Bible and the Holy Spirit, understand the whole Bible is a fable.  When Jesus gave “The Great Commission” to the Apostles He told them to make disciples of all nations.  That means make students of them.  That means the Apostles had to teach us.  Their doctrine has to be learned, and it has to be taught to others who will carry on the Apostolic ministry of teaching the Apostolic Faith. This does not mean there will be more Apostles.  That office is ended and closed.  Those who claim to be modern Apostles are deluded or lying or both.  Dully trained and ordained men are called to carry on the ministry of teaching and shepherding God’s Church, and in that sense they have an Apostolic ministry, but they are not themselves Apostles.

            But why do we have to wrestle with this doctrine of the Trinity?  Because God is Trinity.  I can’t really explain the Trinity to you.  I hope to expound 1 Peter 1:2 in a way will give you a glimpse of how each Person of the Holy Trinity operates in the salvation of your soul.

            The first thing we see in this verse is, the Father elects.  Many people hate this verse of the Bible.  Many say it doesn’t mean what it says.  But there is no way to understand this verse other than that God, the Father, elects, singles out, and chooses people to receive His grace.  Notice He elects according to His foreknowledge.  This is where many people get lost on the doctrine of election.  They try to turn it around and say God elects those He foresees will believe in Christ.  But foreknowledge does not have that meaning.  Foreknowledge means pre-determined.  It means God’s actions are working out a pre-determined plan.  It means God has decreed certain things to happen, that’s why He knows they will happen.  He foreknows what He has foreordained.

            Here is what that means to us today.  God the Father, before He laid the foundations of the world or said, “Let there be light” choose, and determined to save you.  He determined to create you.  He determined to pour upon you the blessings of His grace.  He determined to love you, to come to earth and live as a man, and die on the cross and rise again to save you from your sin.  He chose you to belong to Him, and to be the recipient of everything His love can give you.  That’s what God the Father does in relationship to your salvation.

            The Holy Spirit sanctifies you.  Peter is still talking about God here.  He is still talking about the same God Moses wrote about, saying, “the Lord our God is one Lord; one and only one.  The Holy Spirit is His Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is Him.  What the Spirit does, God does.  What the Holy Spirit is, God is.  God and the Spirit are one.  And the Holy Spirit sanctifies you.  It is the Spirit who made you aware of God.  The Spirit made you aware of you sin.  The Spirit gave you understanding of the Bible; of verses like, “all have sinned.”  “The wages of sin is death.”  “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  The Holy Spirit enabled you to understand that.  He opened the eyes of your understanding.  He enabled you to believe it, and to trust in Christ as your Saviour.  It is the Spirit who dwells in you, leading you daily into God.  Sometimes chastising you for your unwillingness to follow Him.  Sometimes encouraging you to keep on following Christ even though you are weak and tired, or just plain lazy. It is the Spirit who applies the means of grace to your soul.  It is through His work that the Bible, the Sacraments, the Church, Prayer/Worship, and obedience work faith in you.  It is through Him that the means of grace strengthen you, and make you become Godly.  Peter sums this up in the word, obedience.  The Holy Spirit helps you become obedient to God, and that enables you to live the highest and best life it is possible to live on this earth, now, and in that “inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you”  (1 Pt. 1:4).

This brings us to that great sacrifice once offered for your sins.  I am talking about the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  This is what Peter means by the blood of Christ.  We could say God the Father purposed our salvation.  We could say God the Holy Spirit applies our salvation.  But it is God the Son, Jesus Christ, who purchased our salvation with His blood.  He suffered the whip and the cross.  He died your death and suffered your hell.  His blood was poured out for you.  Blood, in the Bible, represents life.  So Christ’s life was poured out for you.  That’s what we mean when we say we are cleansed by the blood of Christ.  He gave His life in your place.  He took your sins upon Himself and died for them on the cross.  As His life, His blood flowed out of Him your sins went with it, and you are clean.  Peter expresses this by saying you are sprinkled with His blood.  In Exodus 24:8 Moses sprinkled the blood of the covenant on the people, and in your baptism you were symbolically sprinkled with the blood of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ.  His blood purchased your forgiveness.

            So why learn about the Trinity?  Because each person of the Trinity has an important part to play in the forgiveness of your sins.  If any part of the Trinity failed to do His part, your salvation would be non-existent.  Only as God the Father purposed and ordained your election, can you be saved.  Only as God the Holy Spirit calls and enables and applies the work of Christ to you can you be saved.  Only as God the Son went to the cross in your place, and suffered the penalty of sin in your place can you be saved.  It took all of God to save you.  But you are completely saved if you are in Him through Biblical faith.
--
+Dennis Campbell

Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Church Diocese of Virginia
Rector, Holy Trinity Anglican Orthodox Church
Powhatan, Virginia


Rev Bryan Dabney of Saint John’s Sunday Sermon
We are fortunate to have Bryan’s Sunday Sermon.  If you want people to come to The Truth, you have to speak the truth, expouse the truth and live the truth.    This is really a good piece and I commend it to your careful reading.


Trinity Sunday


Imagine that you were present when Nicodemus approached our Lord about his teachings. He likely came to our Lord in secret that he might have his undivided attention, free from the chorus of his fellow scribes and Pharisees who were ever ready to criticize our Lord for one thing or another. Nicodemus came with an earnest desire to understand those truths of God which our Lord had openly expressed. He saw in Jesus of Nazareth something that he had not seen in other would-be prophets. Consider the following comment, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him (St. John 3:2).

Nicodemus no doubt possessed a personal expectation about what he would hear from him though the gospel account does not tell us. Nevertheless, we can be sure that whatever it was, our Lord’s response was not what this erudite man had in mind. He was not prepared for his message: Ye must be born again. Clearly Nicodemus did not understand that being born again was not a second birth in the natural sense, but was spiritual in character. Our Lord said, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

St. Paul noted in his first epistle to the Corinthians (2:14), But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know they because they are spiritually discerned. This goes hand in hand with God’s just sentence of Adam and Eve because they had violated his command: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Genesis 2:17).

There are two types of death which have afflicted us as descendants of our first parents, the one being the physical death of the body, and the other being the spiritual death of our souls. In such a state, what can we do? The answer is, We can do nothing of our own selves to mitigate or set aside this fallen condition. Our only hope rests in our turning unto the Saviour who died that we might have eternal life through his shed blood. And that is where the preaching of the gospel comes in as the apostle Paul once noted, so then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).
Now it ought to be apparent to anyone with even a basic knowledge of Scripture, that not every person will have the capacity to hear and receive the gospel. Our Lord explained in the parable of the sower that there must be good ground for his word to take root in, grow and finally bear fruit. It is that last part which is crucial for if we do not bear fruit in our Lord’s service, then we are wicked and slothful servants worthy only to be bound up like tares and cast into the fire (St. Matthew 13:1-23). Still, in order for those to hear, St. Paul observed, How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things (Romans 10:14-16)!

Here we have a great mystery before us. For there is something in our makeup that knows we need a Saviour, and it is that which prompts us to call out to God for his salvation. Do we call out to God for salvation because the Holy Ghost came beforehand to impress upon us our need for God’s saving grace? Or, do we call out to God in response to his open invitation to receive his free gift of grace in the name of his only begotten Son? Do we therefore come to God of our own volition, or do we come because he has compelled us in some manner? Are we invited to come to Christ, or, are we stiff-armed? These are important questions and not so easily answered as one might think.

St. Paul reminded the Romans that, The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse (vv.18-20). There is no excuse that will cover the unregenerate in their denial of the existence of God. Though the natural man cannot perceive the things of the Spirit of God, he is nonetheless accountable to God for not seeing them because they are plainly in front of him. Unregenerate man, as the apostle noted, holds the truth in unrighteousness not in ignorance.

Christians should know that in all things regardless of circumstance, God is sovereign in his calling and in our living. He is sovereign in our affirmation of him, or in our negation of him. We should understand from Scripture that God desires obedience and not sacrifice. He desires for all men to repent and to believe (I St. Timothy 2:1-4), and to that end he has given us the gift of faith which comes from the hearing of his word (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 10:17). So in a manner of speaking, he has given to us the impetus to seek after him per the hearing of the gospel though many do not follow through for whatever reason.

Many of the Jews in the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry did not understand his message largely because they refused to believe on him as the Messiah. Our Lord reminded them that, Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life... I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive (St. John 5:40-43). As Matthew Henry once noted concerning the first passage, “Their estrangement from Christ was the fault of their wills. The only reason why sinners die [spiritually and eternally] is because they will not come to Christ for life and happiness; it is not because they cannot, but because they will not.”

Nicodemus did not understand what our Lord had said to him because his training and studies had not focused on the principal reason for the Messiah’s coming: to free humanity from the eternal effects of original sin. His training did not take into account the dead spiritual nature of mankind. In such a state, human beings possess no capacity to save themselves from the effects of original sin. Unregenerated mortals cannot work their way back to God because there is nothing they can offer God in exchange for their lives (Psalm 49:7-8). While Nicodemus and his fellow scholars of Judaism were praying for the coming of the Messiah, they were looking for an earthly deliverer: someone who would drive the Romans out of Jerusalem and the land of Israel for good. What he and the other scholars did not understand was that God’s plan of salvation is not merely a temporal or transitory event. No, godly salvation is everlasting. It is timeless in its operation, and is eternally transforming because it changes the lost sinner into a new person (Ephesians 4:24). It makes of all who have crucified the flesh in the name of Jesus Christ a citizen of the New Jerusalem. And all who have accepted God’s free gift have had their names inscribed in Lamb’s book of life. That is what God has in mind regarding our salvation. But to obtain this gift, we must repent and turn unto to him in the name of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. If we are sincere in our request, a just and holy God will hear and grant us the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide us into to all truth. He will convince us of our sins and show us the way to God via Christ Jesus.

There are, however, those who would use Christianity as a mask. They have not the Spirit of God, neither have they asked to receive it. They will attend church and participate in various church-related activities, all the while never understanding that they must be born again in the Spirit if they are to be saved. Baptism by itself does not bring about salvation. Taking the Holy Communion by itself does not produce salvation. A person is not saved by making a public profession of faith apart from the workings of the Holy Spirit. It is well-stated in Scripture that apart from a regenerated nature in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Ghost, no flesh can be saved. That is why our Lord said to Nicodemus, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

The Scriptures speak of God separating mankind out into two distinct groups that are metaphorically explained in the parables of the wheat and tares (St. Matthew 13:24-30), and the good fish and bad fish (St. Matthew 13:47-50). Our Lord said, He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God (St. John 8:47). His meaning is clear: there are those who will receive the Spirit of God and there are those who will not. That which empowers those who have received the gift of faith also urges them to seek after the things of God and to do his will in their lives. Likewise, the inverse is true. St. Paul said (Romans 8: 5-17), For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit . . . so then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you . . . the Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God . . .
Let us close with a passage from St. Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians (2:5), Even when we were dead in sins, hath [he] quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved). May God grant to you that quickening of your spirits that you will seek to better know and love him through the atoning work of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Let us pray,

G
ood and gracious God, grant us the filling of the Holy Ghost, that we being indwelt by the same would know the certainty of our salvation; and that our lives would hereafter reflect thy gift of grace; all of which we ask in the name of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+



[1] Courtesy of the Rev. Munachi Ezeogu
[2] The Gospel of John identifies the Logos, through which all things are made, as divine (theos), and further identifies Jesus as the incarnation of the Logos. As the Logos, Jesus Christ is God in self-revelation (Light) and redemption (Life). He is God to the extent that he can be present to man and knowable to man. The Logos is God,[Jn 1:1] ... Yet the Logos is in some sense distinguishable from God, for "the Logos was with God."[Jn 1:1] God and the Logos are not two beings, and yet they are also not simply identical. ... The Logos is God active in creation, revelation, and redemption. – Frank Stagg
[3] Did you ever wonder what difference the translation makes?  Consider while "the Word was God" is by far the most common English translation, non-Trinitarian groups such as the Jehovah's Witnesses (in the New World Translation and their edition of the Emphatic Diaglott and Unitarians (in Thomas Belsham's modification of William Newcome's version) translate "the Word was a god."
[4] Edgar A. Guest – 20 August 1881 – 5 August 1959
Born in Birmingham, England. He and his family moved to the United States in 1891. He worked at the Detroit Free Press in Detroit, Michigan. He started there as a copy boy then as a reporter. He had a radio show and a television series. Guest has written 11,000 poems. His sentimental and optimistic poetry are inspiring and enjoyable to read.
[5] 1 St. John ii. 1, 2 and Book of Common Prayer, page 76

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