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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Edification – 12 August 2020, Anno Domini

 


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UT he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying(1 Corinthians 14:3-5)

 

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OR though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed     (II Corinthians 10:8)

 

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GAIN, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.   (II Corinthians 12:19)

 

            The preaching of the Gospel may be as hot coals on the head of the lost sinner, but are as gentle words of comfort and encouragement to the believer. IT has ever been that way; however, the modern church seems to have exhausted their supply of ‘hot coals’ and have opted rather to preach soft words that make the sinner feel he needs no repentance. 

 

            It is true that the ministers of God are to edify the members of the body of Christ, but only with sound words of truth and true doctrine. These will edify the saints but not the unbeliever. The unbeliever must be made to realize his lost and helpless unrighteousness and his need for a Redeemer. 

 

            What do the scriptures mean by the word ‘edify?’ The word means to build up a thing or a faith. An edifice is a constructed structure built up from the ground level. To edify one another in the assemblage of the Church is not to tear each other down, but to build up in faith. That does not mean dismissing sin as tolerable to God! When we build a building (or edifice), we count the cost, plan the structure, purchase the materials and contract the workers to complete the building according to the plan. God, too, has a plan for his Church. Each stone (member of varying size and proportion) is carefully measured and placed in the vacancy specifically designed for it. There can be no stones of deceit, of theft, of lies, of murderers, of adulterers, etc. All must be chosen stones for the structure. If any of those stones that are unfit arise, they must be culled out and discarded; or else hewn to the proper dimensions to serve the purpose of the Builder.

 

            When a man or woman does commendable service in the church, it is appropriate to laud their efforts as a matter of encouragement. That is edification. 


Edification animates the believer to do more than he can do. If we are doing the work of the Lord, we are all doing more than we can do. How is that possible? Because the labors of love we perform are not ours at all, but belong to the Lord Jesus Christ who works in and through us and our organs to perform His works. 

 

            The best way to improve the skills of a new organist is not in criticizing every mistake they make. Simply choose the good points of their performance and commend them for those. You will find the result will be far more satisfactory than simply criticizing. My mom used to compliment me to no end on how well I could perform new chores around the house – until I proved I could do them well and then it was the least expected.

 

            We need not condemn the attire of a gentleman or lady who enters the Church. Simply commend them for their choice of colors, or their desires to come and serve God. Our good examples will correct any deficiency in dress or conduct in the process of time. But inappropriate dress or conduct cannot go unaddressed in the House of the Lord as a matter of habit. Once a person knows Christ and the requirements of modesty in dress or conduct, they must be held to that standard within the Church.

 

            It is not edifying to a fellow Christian to walk up and tell them how sickly they look, or how much weight they have gained. Every one of us has some commendable points on which to comment. Rely on those and not a constant negative. Edify in good works, not on our skills at constant critique.

 

            In the church of our Lord, there is also a means of self-edification. This is not a proud boasting of our accomplishments, but rather an inward property of righteous devotion in our thoughts, deeds and habits. One such self-edification is that of prayer. Private prayers are just as important as corporate prayers. It is the prayer of the believer when no one else is watching that is heard in greater decibels in Heaven than even corporate prayers in public worship. In those prayers, there is no hypocritical showmanship – no grand-standing. We come alone face-to-face with our Lord just as the Woman Taken in Adultery who was left alone with her Lord at the end. This is a moment of solemn and sincere faith. All is said strictly between you and the Lord. Habitual private prayers are essential to the edification of the human spirit. 

 

            Another means of Christian edification is self-examination! We often desire to win an argument so badly that we stretch the truth and facts in order to better the other person. But when we get alone, we recognize our wicked intention. We resolve to never repeat that breach of trust again, and we go to the person and let them know we were wrong. In doing so, we are building a strong inward wall around our heart that discourages our doing the same in future. Each day in our evening devotions, we should first exercise a time of self-examination of our faults and sin of the day.

 

            One of the most potent means of self-edification, and one that is essential to every believer, is scripture study. The purpose of the Comforter is to bring to our remembrance all things written in scripture about our Lord Jesus Christ. How can the Holy Spirit bring anything to our remembrance if we have not even yet read it out of the Bible in the first place? We eat our physical bread daily to maintain our physical strength and stamina. Do we not need the same spiritual manna to nourish our souls daily?

 

            Another essential means of self-edification is in hearing the Gospel preached in assembly. At such a time, if at no other, the Church is of one mind and one focus. “ 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 If we fail in our regular attendance at worship, how shall our faith be edified in hearing? “24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25) The word ‘provoke’ has a belligerency associated, but here it means that we must strive, even against all opposition, to encourage strongly in love and good works. The scriptures often use terms appropriate to a military army since we are all, in fact, members of the militant Army of Christ.

 

            There is also something profitable to be said of meditation – not that kind that stares in space for long periods, or utters babbling sounds that mean nothing to God or man; but the kind of meditation in which one reads the scripture with great care and stops and thinks deeply about every word, every line, every sentence of it to glean the most gold that can be mined from it with our mortal brains. It may then be applied to our lives in real time.

 

            I love to discuss the mysteries of God’s Holy Word whenever I can find a willing ear. I love God’s Word, and I want others to love it. It cleanses, it saves, it grants peace, it rebukes, it encourages, it gives hope, and it opens the celestial gates of God’s promises to the devout student. Having found such a treasure, by the grace of God, why not eagerly share that treasure with every creature we meet!

 

We do have a responsibility to edify others in the faith, but by what means? To edify others there should be love, spiritual conversation, forbearance, faithfulness, benevolent exertions, and uniformity of conduct.

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Temple which neither the Jewish rulers, nor the Roman cohorts, could destroy. His Temple (body, the Church) is a’building! Every YOU-SHAPED vacancy in the walls have a YOU-SHAPED stone that is precisely the one that is needful of filling that vacancy according to the predestinate will and calling of the Lord. Present yourself to the great Builder and you will not be the stone that the builders reject.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Hymns of the Church – Ere the waning light decay – 11 August 2020, Anno Domini

 


A Song of degrees.

 

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 WILL lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.  Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.  (Psalm 121)

 

            Here is an old Anglican Church hymn that extols the virtue of solemn reverence in worship – a practice that has been abandoned by most churches of our day to the detriment of holiness. I am afraid the title itself conveys the state of the modern church in which the Light of Christ fades for a lack of serious commitment to biblical doctrine and church discipline. Entertainment for man has replaced the praises due only to God. 

 

            This grand old hymn, now almost extinct, was composed by the German-born St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, who was a valiant opponent of the Arian heresy which averred that Christ was created and not eternal with the Father. That heresy was rejected by the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD though it has reared its ugly head by insinuation in modern Bible versions. The English translation from the Latin is the work of the Anglican cleric, Richard Mant, (1776 -1848) The hymn is number 28 in the Church of England Hymn Book of 1880. This hymn is based upon the 121st Psalm.

 

Ere the waning light decay

 

Ere the waning light decay,

God of all, to thee we pray,

Let thine angel-guards descend, 

Us to succour and defend.

 

Guard from evils that affright,

Guard from sorrows of the night;

Guard from foes, without, within,

Outward danger, inward sin.

 

Mindful of our only stay,

Duly thus to thee we pray;

Duly thus to thee we raise

Solemn hymns of grateful praise.

 

Hear our prayer, Almighty King!

Hear our praises while we sing!

Hymning with the heavenly host,

Father, Son, and Holy ghost. 

AMEN

 

1.     Ere the waning light decay, God of all, to thee we pray, Let thine angel-guards descend,  Us to  succour and defend. Though our lives are only as a vapor before the expanse of eternity, they most often end in the sunset of old age when the light of the eye becomes dim, and the landscape of life grows silent. Just as surely as we anticipate the daily sunset, so do we know and anticipate the coming passage into eternity. An old childhood bedtime prayer comes to mind, “As I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” Just as the angels of the Lord have stood watch over our sleeping hours on earth, we pray for the same attention in our last, mortal sleep on this green earth. To the Christian, that is a heavenly assurance.

 

2.     Guard from evils that affright, Guard from sorrows of the night; Guard from foes, without,  within, Outward danger, inward sin. That looming shadow of death which most often arises during times of disease, famine, war, and advanced age may give pause to the believer until he remembers the promise of God that it is, indeed, of no substance whatsoever – but only a shadow in which light is temporarily obstructed. During the long, dark night of our souls, every problem seems magnified in awful proportions; but when the sun rises and sheds her effulgent beams across the morning sky, how paltry those fears appear now. The Christian must face the enemy on two different battlefronts – those without (from which we pray the protection of God), and those within which are our own making. The latter is far more formidable than the former since it can destroy the soul. But in our Christian walk, we seek forgiveness daily for our dual sins of both omission and commission and we can know that God will forgive the sincere penitent.

 

3.     Mindful of our only stay, Duly thus to thee we pray; Duly thus to thee we raise Solemn hymns of grateful praise. Are we mindful that our only hope, anchor and   fortress is the Lord? That mind must be forefront in the mind of every saint of God. We pray with faith that God is our Fortress and Strong Tower – our Rock and the Ark of our Salvation. Our hymns should be solemn and honoring of God and not frivolous and complimentary of men. It is this solemn reverence that must be restored to Christian worship ere the Light can beam through the broken clouds once more. 

 

4.     Hear our prayer, Almighty King! Hear our praises while we sing! Hymning with the heavenly host, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  AMEN Our praises are to God and not to extol our virtues in following for we have none. We follow by the power of the Holy Ghost – not any virtues of our own. Yes, we have a plethora of hymns directly from God’s Word, especially in the Psalms. And the ancient Church has given us a repository of faithful and scriptural hymns by which we may honor our Maker and Redeemer. Why should we sing refurbished barroom ballads when the better and more Godly hymns may suffice to lift our souls in worship? The last phase of this hymn places honor and praise where it belongs – to the Triune Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! And quite appropriately, every Godly hymn will end with the AMEN.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

AOC Sunday Report - Ninth Sunday after Trinity


Happy Ninth Sunday after Trinity

The AOC Sunday Report can be downloaded RIGHT HERE!

Today we have really good sermons from Bishops Jerry and Roy, as well as Revs Jack and Bryan.  They are each quite different.  Bishop Jerry does a really great line by line on the Prodigal Son, it is a bit long, but well worth your time and an easy read.

There are a lot of people who need your prayer, please start with Bob, Tricia and Shamu, work out from there.  Do not forget to pray for our respective countries under siege in the name of Covid 19.

There is the potential for an EPIC week ahead, but without the help of that Third God Guy, the Holy Ghost, you will be lucky to find a decent week.  Take that help and make your week great by God's Grace, not depending on luck!

Godspeed,

Hap
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California
United States of America

Sermon Notes - Ninth Sunday after Trinity - Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide - 9 August 2020, Anno Domini


The Ninth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

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RANT to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as are right; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Ninth Collect is that which expresses the “whole doctrine of grace.” The strength of the Collect was slightly reduced by the 1662 revisers in the phrase, “we cannot do any thing that is good without thee” from the original of Cranmer’s “which CANNOT BE without thee!” While it is true that we cannot do anything good without God, it is more importantly true that we cannot do anything at all without Him for, without Him, we could not exist. The Collect petitions for a grant of benefit. As is customary of all Godly prayers, nothing of personal and material benefit is sought, but only that which is pleasing to God. It is important to bear in mind that only those things which are pleasing to God are of any benefit to us as well, in the last resort,  for He loves us and pines for only the good things of His Love to be manifested through our lives and testimonies. We can only live a life pleasing to God through the efficacy of His Will and Word both for us and acting through our members. Of course, His grace is not restricted to believers only, but is also manifested in a general application to the whole world. The world is full of lost and dying souls, but God is present even in the darkest corners of our world, and His saving Light only revealed to those whose souls and spirits respond to that bright beam of the Searchlight which tops the turbulent waves of the sea and  draws us near by faith. Faith is our spiritual eyes without which we are blind beggars.

     The grace expressed always in God’s Word is very like a great Magnet which draws the metal whose properties are of the same nature with His own by having the Law of God written in scarlet letters upon the tender tissues of the heart. The great comfort we may have in all of this promise of grace is that God knows WHERE we are and where we are GOING! He sees our small bark on the restless waves of the sea and He knows, as well as we, that we cannot brave the storms of the seas in our bark without a great Power of Help. His outstretched Arm sustains us on these seas of life, and we are without in Him danger though the sea billows roar. This is our Friend, our Father, our God, our Redeemer, and our Lord. Have you seen the Light?

The Gospel
Luke 15:11-32

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ND he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry 25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. 29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found

     We take up today the third in a trilogy of lost things in Parables – the Prodigal Son! Due to the length and intrinsic beauty of this Parable, we shall study it in two parts, over two days. The first part involves the coming of age of a son, his rebellion to the Father, his departure and descent into debauchery, and finally his awakening and return to the Father. In the second part, we shall study the reaction of his brother to his homecoming. 
          11 And he said, A certain man had two sons – not just ‘any’ man, but a ‘certain’ man. The father in this Parable is illustrative of God our Father in Heaven who has two peoples (Jews and Gentiles) to whom have been offered the most beneficent of blessing – the salvation by grace through faith in His only Begotten Son. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his livingPlease bear in mind that the younger son, though of tender years, has come to the age of accountability. He is like a Christian who is born of God, has lived as a son of God, but finally rebels against God his Father. In this respect, he differs from the Lost Sheep who was not mature, and not well learned in the means of grace or of pasturelands. He also starkly differs from the Lost Coin which was dead – just as dead as the lost sinner is dead in trespasses and sins. The Lost Sheep, because of its lack of vision and maturity, does not intentionally leave the Good Shepherd. It gets lost because it lacks the sense to follow closely on; but, once lost, it is incapable of finding itself because it lacks the deep root of faith which typifies a well-nurtured child of God. So the Good Shepherd must seek out the Lost Sheep. The Lost coin, being inanimate of spirit, is lost wherever it is and, if found, must be found only by its rightful owner who is God, and by His Sovereign Will and Grace.

        The young son desires to be out from under the watchful, though loving, eye of his father. From the moment of his birth, he has lived according to the law of his father. He feels now that he is grown up and become the wisest of ten thousand - he believes can do better. He is a child of God by circumstance of a (new) birth and not by persistent faith. Bear in mind, too, that according to the laws of inheritance, the father is not obligated to ‘divide his living’ to the young man. In fact, the young man was impertinent to even make the request. But, even though the son desires to part company with his father, the father loves his son and realizes that the argument of logic and reason will not benefit at this early point of the young man’s maturity (or, rather, immaturity). Our Father God compels none to abide under His beneficent care. Even nations who opt to abandon God do so oblivious to the danger and peril  to which they subject themselves. God does not intrude where He is not wanted for He is a perfect gentleman, and we are left to the wiles of the Devil without His over-watching care and protection.  We see this being demonstrated across the landscape of America today.

        13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. How eager are the youth of our day to remove themselves a far distance from the watchful eye of the parent! When freedom looms bold, the child will hurry to get away and enjoy what he believes will be nothing but joy and plenty. Anytime one departs from his Father God, he will be going into a ‘Far Country’ where the famine will certainly arise for him. Being separated from God in spirit, as well as distance, will lead to depravity of conduct and a waste of the wealth God has given. Without the benefit of the Holy Ghost as our heart’s compass, it is impossible to live a life pleasing to God.

        The good father watched the darling of his heart depart on that long, dusty road. He watched every move his sonmade until, at last, his visage disappeared on the distant horizon. How often would the father sit for days, months, and perhaps years,  through the warm summers, amber autumns, dreary winter months, and through the promises of spring, watching that same road for any sign of his son’s return. How often would he inquire and receive word back that his sonwas wasting all – not only his wealth, but his health and humanity as well. Yet, the father never sent for his son or begged him to return. Why not? Because any amount of reasoning with a rebellious son will yield no victory until that son has learned (often the hard way) for himself the cruelty of a world without his Father’s loving care. Have we learned that lesson, reader?

        14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. A Christian who departs from the presence of God will lose all in the process of riotous living. His life, begun in pleasures of lust, will come to mighty famine of spirit, body, and soul. The Dark Angel will take all that you have, and then some more. The time will always, and with great certainty,  arise when you will begin to be in want. With some, this is the moment of awakening for the need of your Father; but with others, more suffering and desperate want is necessary. So it is with our Prodigal – too proud to return to his father, and too desperate to even remember the abundance which he has left behind at the end of that dusty road, he lingers on in peril of his soul forestalling the inevitable.

        15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. If we are not joined with God our Father, we shall surely be joined to a stranger who gives not a whit for the well being of our souls. If our companions are not citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, they shall be citizens of that Far Country. The stranger to whom we are joined when apart from God will only use us and destroy us. He will place us in unsavory circumstances and filthy habitations.  If we labor not in our Father’s Fields, we shall labor for the Destroyer of Souls. Imagine the hurt in the soul of a young Hebrew lad who was raised in plenty in his father’s house now having to feed swine.

        16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. When you are out of the company of God, no man will care for you. You end up eating food for the soul that is like unto the food of pigs. Of course, he remembered that his father still loved him regardless of how far away he drifted, but his tortured mind had lost the ability to see and understand clearly in this Far Country.  He was lingering in a state of reprobation.

        17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! It should be noted that any Christian who departs from the Presence of their Lord is not in his right mind, and this poor youth is no exception. He has travelled a great distance from the love of his father, but his father’s love knows no distance. His tortured brain had undergone a process of gradual deprivation and debauchery during this time of licentious living. It was necessary for him to suffer much, long and hard, in separation from the benefits of his father in order to penetrate his stubborn heart and spark his calloused spirit. But, he DID come to himself. He finally was forced to admit that all his dreams and fantasies were in ruins. He came to view, as we all must do apart from God, what a deplorable condition he had arrived at in his rebellion. Even the smallest little soul in our Father’s House has plenty of daily bread, and more; yet, we who believed we could do better in a Far Country, are perishing without that Bread of Heaven common in our Father’s House.

        18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. Once we have come to the reality of our loss, we must resolve to return to our Father and confess our sinful disposition and living. We must face the reality that we are the most unworthy of all under God’s Heaven. We are certainly not worthy, nor have we ever been, of being a son or daughter of the Most High God. Sins against our earthly fathers are also reckoned as sins against heaven. We will then be happy to be accepted as only hired servants in the great house we deserted. But God has no “hired servants.”

        20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. It is not enough to KNOW to do right – we must follow that realization with ACTION! We cannot make amends for our faithlessness in a Far Country – we must RETURN to the presence of our Father and confess our sins. The good father has felt the hurt of his son’s absence deep in his heart as he has watched, day after day, that same dusty road upon which his son departed.  Once, perhaps as evening shadows begin to fall, he spots a lonely fellow coming on that road. Though his eyes have grown dim with age, he unmistakably recognizes that this fellow is his dear son! He knows his gait and carriage even though the fellow is not riding a charger or dressed in the silken blouse he wore when he departed. He is rather dressed in rags and is filthy in his person. Even from a great distance away, he recognizes his son. God always recognizes those of us who wander from Him when He sees us on the road of return. Is that not a blessing of great joy? God will always have compassion on us when we return no matter how long our delay. Even though we are filthy in our sins and exude the terrible stench of the pigpen, He will embrace us and greet us with a Holy Kiss. Only a Father could love such a child, and He has done so for you and me.

        21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. Here, the prodigal satisfies the demands of love and conscience. He confesses, not only his sinfulness, but his complete unworthiness. None are worthy to be the son or daughter of God, but we shall certainly be if we have received that saving Grace of Jesus Christ. We see that there has taken place a four-fold undertaking in the prodigal’s return: 1) he came to himself and recognized his depravity; 2) He resolved to return to his father; 3) he arose and returned to his father in answer to his resolution; and 4) he confessed his dreadful behavior and worthlessness to his father. So must we do when we have separated ourselves from our loving Father!

        22 But the father said to his servants(as if he did not hear his son’s comments), Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: That ‘best robe’ represents the White Robe of Righteousness offered by Christ to all who come to Him. He will cover our sins and nakedness with that Robe which He has purchased with His own precious Blood. That ‘ring’ which the father gives the son is the same as that Signet Ring of Authority that a Sovereign gives to a subject to act in His Name and on His own Behalf. The Christian has great authority granted in the power of the Holy Scriptures themselves. What of the shoes? In ancient times, the first thing taken from prisoners captured on the battlefield was their shoes. Their shoes were taken to prevent their escape. Shoes represent liberty and freedom. In Christ, we have perfect Liberty. “…..where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Cor 3:17) God our Father has covered our sins with that White Robe of Righteousness offered in Christ,  given us Authority as believers to act on His behalf (having that same mind and will of the Father in our hearts), and given us perfect Liberty in Christ. The children of the Father have the complete free run of the home He offers.  23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry There will always be a feast of celebration in heaven at the return of a prodigal. There was joy in heaven at the recovery of the little Lost Sheep; there was joy in heaven over the recovery of the Lost Coin; and there was exceeding joy in heaven over the return of the Lost Son. How great worth we are as children of God. He will never forget us, nor will He give up watching and waiting when we depart from Him in rebellion.

        24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry It is in the nature of a heart to lament the loss of a thing once owned far more than the failure to acquire something much desired. It is sorrowful for a woman to desire a child but remain barren of children; but it is of far greater anguish to have a child and lose it. In a Far Country, away from God, we are dead as much as before we were ever born in Christ. But God is joyful at our return. He cannot bring us home in our state of sin and rebellion – that is a decision that the heart of the wanderer must make  - to come home to God, to confess our sinfulness, and be restored. He will not own us in a Far Country, but He will never disown us when we have come home to Him.

        The question that this Parable raises is too apparent to deny: have you wandered from your Father’s home? Have you spent all of your resources in riotous living? Have you sunk to the level of the pigs in the sty? Have you come to the realization of your grievous apostasy? Have you resolved to return to you Father and confess your faults? Have you followed through with your resolution? Have you?

The Elder Son
            Today’s text covers the last half of the rich and memorable Parable of the Prodigal Son. There have been mixed and varied interpretations of its meaning and my own interpretation will not satisfy every facet of its meaning – for, like a well cut diamond, there are many facets to this portion of the Parable and each may be as true as the next.  The hands and minds of men are vulgar and insensible when compared to the infallible and Holy Word of God, so we each will benefit in taking no man’s word for meaning or measure without resorting to the Crystal Stream that flows from the Fountain of Living Waters – the Holy Bible itself, and with the Holy Ghost as an interpreter thereof. 

     At the outset, we might agree that the principles that rule in the Kingdom of Heaven are not worldly. There is no seniority of time and labors in that Kingdom. God is more concerned about the DIRECTION we are going and the PRESENT condition of our hearts than in the tireless amounts of labors performed by men’s hands.

       25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. Can you sympathize with this faithful son who has remained at his father’s side while his younger brother fritted away half the wealth of his father in consorting with harlots and false religion (for harlotry is compared in God’s Word to Idolatry)? He has not even heard that his younger brother has returned, so he is astonished at the sound of music and revelry coming from his father’s house. No one even showed him the courtesy of sending for him to partake in the celebration. Examine your own heart at this moment and answer: “Would you, too, not be offended?” He has labored throughout the heat of the day (and years). He has sacrificed much of his young years on his father’s behalf. He is tired and weary, but now he hears the sound of celebration and party! 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. At the present, he is only curious, but soon he will be outraged. Would we not be as well?

     27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. As we have stated often before, love is not divisible. It is whole cloth and cannot be divided between siblings. A mother loves the eldest just as dearly as the youngest and will never make a choice between the two. Her love is increased in exact amounts, and never diminished, to cover each child equally in showers of blessing. The same is true of fathers. The father has not killed the fatted calf in honor of his prodigal son, but in expression his own joy at the son’s recovery. Please recollect the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin and the joy in heaven over their recovery. But here is revealed the joy of a father at the recovery of a LOST SON as if restored from death. Can you even imagine the great joy in the heart of the old man? Can you even imagine the joy in Heaven at the recovery of a son or daughter of God, who has wandered afar, yet returns in sorrowful contrition and repentance? 

     28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. I am afraid that I would have responded PRECISELY as this elder son. We are constantly mindful of unfair treatment, especially from those we cherish the most.  Our hearts can never be as large as that of our Maker and Redeemer who bore all for miserable sinners. The marvelous thing is that God understands, and makes allowances for our weak spirits and faltering love. I find one salient and inexcusable fault with the elder son: he should also have been able to subdue feelings of jealousy and unfairness for the moment of reunion with a lost brother whom he has not seen for many, many days. The event of greatest importance (more importance than personal jealousy if familial love is the concerned) is that a lost BROTHER has returned. When I was a lad,  I certainly resented the partial treatment extended to my younger brother for his tender years but, if he had gotten lost for ANY reason, I would have had at least as much joy at his being found as my mother and father would have had. Just as my father often explained to me of the reason the younger son must be treated with a special affection because of his youth, so the father here comes to the elder son with that same love that prompted the celebration to explain to him his feelings and reasons for joy. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 4 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust(Psalm 103:13-14)  It is such a comfort that God understands even our weaknesses and cares for us nonetheless.

     29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son (Note: the elder son would not refer to the younger as brother) was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. It is altogether reasonable that the elder son, in view of worldly principles, would be taken aback by this expression of attention given an unfaithful son. It is not so much the love showered on the prodigalthat bothers the elder son, but the seeming slight of love shown to one who has been, beyond doubt, the more faithful of the two in times past.  The feeling of slighted treatment was comparable to that which the early Jewish believers felt when the gates of mercy and grace were thrown open to the Gentile nations. The Hebrews had been first to take up the Word of God – not by virtue of their own goodness, but by the foreordination and will of God in establishing His people upon the earth. The Hebrew people had been privileged to maintain the oracles of God, to field prophets called by God, to build the Temple in Jerusalem. They could easily see their present blessing, but were blind to the greater plan of God in not limiting the promises of Israel to a single race of people. His plan was decided long before there was a Canaan, an Abraham, or even a Garden eastward in Eden.

     The elder son is hurt to the core. His father has killed the fatted calf, the choice of his stock, for his prodigal son who has returned home. But the father has not so much as killed a kid goat for his elder son who has remained faithful.  Please look beyond the limits of our selfish concerns and see the great generosity and grace of God in forgiving, always and fully, our past transgressions and rejoicing at the present contrition of a heart that returns to Him. We always look at the outward evidence, but God ALWAYS looks at the inward motive. “………the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (1 Sam 16:7) Is it not possible that the One who made the heart can also repair the heart that is broken? It is a strangely wonderful truth that God loves the broken heart more than the whole: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalms 51:17)  

     We all enter in this life with a heart full of imperfections. If we fail to confess those imperfections, we shall bear them to our graves, but only that which is broken needs fixing. This, the Pharisees failed miserably to grasp and placed themselves, for the most part, beyond the bonds of mercy. Have you known of your heart needing fixing? Have you taken it to the Master Heart Maker who only can restore that heart? My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise(Psalm 57:7) Please remember the depth of sin into which David, a man after God’s own heart, sank; yet see what David can say after a trip to the Master. A heart, sure of itself and unaware of hidden imperfections cannot be ‘FIXED.’ Only a heart that is BROKEN can be FIXED! Do you have a broken heart that has been FIXED by God, our Maker?

     31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. The good father, who loves his elder son every bit as much as the younger, acknowledges the elder son’s faithfulness and devotion.  I can imagine that he spoke with deep regard and affection as he placed his arm over the shoulder of the despondent one, just as God our Father comforts us when we believe we have been wronged. The elder son has lost NOTHING by remaining faithful to the father. In fact, all that the father has remaining belongs to the elder son. Not only has he retained his original inheritance from his father, but much has been added by years of labor and improvement. The younger, on the contrary, is destitute of any inheritance. He has squandered it away in a Far Country separated from his father. There is a stark lesson here for us. Even though we are pardoned by God and warmly received back into His loving care, our sins and disobedience have consequences of eternal impact. We are often unable to restore the loss and pain we have caused by our sins. Though forgiven, sin leaves scars. Look at the terrible scars of the whip, nails, and lance that our sins caused on the body of our dear Lord and Redeemer – and these were only the outward evidences of a terrible anguish He felt in His Spirit for us.

     32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother  (the father refers to the younger as the elder’s brother) was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is foundIt is always right and meet that we should rejoice in the reunion of one separated from his loved ones of the One who loves more than heart can know. The elder son has done that which is expected and proper in serving his father these many years, yet, the son, who was lost, has come home and he has lost nothing in the return of the prodigal. THIS is a true cause of  rejoicing! We do not make a fuss over a friend who is continually by our side through hard times and good, but we DO make a fuss over a friend who has returned after a separation during which we believed him to be dead.  Do we realize that we are all in a state of death and dying when apart from our Father God? Do you

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Ninth Sunday after Trinity - Propers, Explanation and Rev Jack's Sermon


The Propers for today are found on Page 200-203, with the Collect first:

The Ninth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

G
RANT to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as are right; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle came from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, the Tenth Chapter beginning at the First Verse.  Paul reminds us we have a common past, regardless of our actual lineage. Spiritually, we are descended from the Jews of the Exodus.  Their God is our God, their actions were directed by our God, the same God.  He was a Trinity then as He is today.  Their reality it our reality, whether we choose to understand or accept it. Our forefathers drank of “the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”  Those who have gone before provide examples, both good and bad.  In this letter Paul addresses the bad and suggest we should see what their ill behavior gained them before we set our course and not after.  And, let we think ourselves ever so special, he reminds us that we are subjected to no special temptations, only those “as is common to man.”  This is another example of the adage, Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.

B
RETHERN, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Today’s Holy Gospel started in the Fifteenth Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke, beginning at the Eleventh Verse and recounts the story of the prodigal son.  A man has two sons, the older is a wonderful young man who strives to please his father in everything he does.  The younger son asks for his inheritance, now rather than later, and sets off to spend it wastefully in a far off land.  In dire straits, he decides to go home to his father and beg to be allowed to live as one of his servants.  He decides to tell his father, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son…”  Before he can get the words out of his mouth, his father welcomes him, gives him new clothing and calls the servants to prepare a fatted calf for a big party.  The elder son is very angry and hurt.  He asks his father what he did wrong; he followed his instructions every day to the best of his ability, worked hard, and yet his father had never even given a small party for him.  The father answered, saying, “Son, thou are ever with me, and all that I have is thine.”   It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost and is found.”  This story, like that of the workers in the vineyard has a number of meanings.  Like the father in the story, God wants us to be His faithful child, but rejoices when we return to Him.  Like the prodigal son, we should be grateful to live long enough to return to Him.  If we are like the oldest son, let us learn from his mistake and be joyful when our brothers and sisters come home to our family.  Let us join in the celebration and not begrudge the fatted calf.

J
ESUS said, A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
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.


Consider the words from the Collect, wherein we ask God to give us … the spirit to think and do always such things as are right; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will …

This is kind of a follow-on to last week’s Collect.  We are asking God to give us direction that we might know right from wrong and follow the right way.  If we listen to our hearts and minds, like the aviator, mariner or adventurer without a compass, we will soon be hopelessly lost.  With the compass God gives us, we can find the One True Way, much like the compass always points North.

The Collect acknowledges without God’s intervention through the Holy Spirit in our lives we cannot do anything good or right. This has been true since the Garden of Eden; there the Fall shows our own very natures prevent us from doing what is right.  Our nature is inclined towards being away from God. However, we can reset our nature to be towards God. We just have to ask for His help, let the Holy Ghost into our hearts and be ready to listen to what He wants us to do, and then act upon that. This is a very difficult matter, a concept we have always have and always will struggle with.

This is not a recent phenomenon.   As Paul reminds us we have a common spiritual past, regardless of our actual lineage.  Spiritually, we are descended from the Jews of the Exodus.  Their God is our God; God directed their actions.  He was a Trinity then as He is today. We struggle with the exact same sins and temptations as they did. If we do not study their history, we are doomed to repeat it. This is why Paul is suggesting we study their prior examples, that we might not repeat them.

In light of this thought, those who have gone before provide numerous examples, both good and bad. We should aspire to follow the good examples of those who have gone before and not follow the bad examples that they have left behind. People too often point out the bad examples of our ancestors and not the good examples. We need to learn from from both to help us become better human beings.  In this letter Paul addresses the bad and suggests we should see what their ill behavior gained them before we set our course and not after. He points out their examples both good and bad are for our learning and we can benefit from them if we take the time to study them.  We will always be learning for the rest of our lives, no matter what profession we belong to, there will always be some form of continuing education. 

Paul is  telling us we are in a way to embrace the Japanese concept of kai-zen or continuous development. Just as pilots need to keep learning to become better and more proficient pilots, good Christians need to always be learning to become better and kinder human beings. 

We should not strive to emulate the murmurings of the people, though we may feel that way sometimes, as we can learn from their bad examples.  We must see their bad examples and do not emulate those; on the other side, we must see the good examples, and strive to emulate them.

Speaking of lessons, when Saint Luke recounts the story of the prodigal son we oft think ourselves as that prodigal one returning to God so late in life.  Yet there is far more to be learned than the titular son.

Consider the two sons.  The older is a wonderful young man who strives to please his father in everything he does.  The younger son asks for his inheritance, now rather than later, and sets off to spend it wastefully in a far off land.  In dire straits, he decides to go home to his father and beg to be allowed to live as one of his servants.  He decides to tell his father, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son…”  Before he can get the words out of his mouth, his father welcomes him, gives him new clothing and calls the servants to prepare a fatted calf for a big party.  The elder son is very angry and hurt.  He asks his father what he did wrong; he followed his instructions every day to the best of his ability, worked hard, and yet his father had never even given a small party for him.  The father answered, saying, “Son, thou are ever with me, and all that I have is thine.”   “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost and is found.”  

This story, like that of the workers in the vineyard has a number of meanings.  Like the father in the story, God wants us to be His faithful child, but rejoices when we return to Him.  He is a loving and patient Father, but will not accept our sinful behavior. Yet, if we repent of that behavior, He will always welcome us back with open arms. We should always do our best to recognize when we have erred and strayed from our ways like lost sheep. Like the prodigal son, we should be grateful to live long enough to return to Him. 

The moral of the younger son’s story is that God is always waiting for us, and if we are not too late, we can always return to Him.  Today preferably rather than tomorrow! He will always accept us with opening arms, but we must make sure it is not too late. Don’t wait until you die! If you feel you have erred and strayed, repent now! Do not put off until tomorrow your repentance. If you are led by the Holy Spirit to repent, please do it today, you may not live to see tomorrow. 

Do not let the sun go down on your sins and wrath, you may not live to see another day! There is another lesson to be learned, this time from the the oldest son. Let us not repeat his mistake and be joyful when our brothers and sisters come home to our family. Let us put aside the anger and jealousy and replace those hurtful emotions with the emotions of pure love and joy! Let us join in the celebration and not begrudge the fatted calf.  We should not be jealous or angry when our long lost brethren return to the flock of Christ! We should be merry and joyful they have returned to us! Do not let your pride become anger and cloud your emotions like it does so many of us. But, rather see a sinner coming back into His flock and rejoice in he is no longer headed towards The Pit! 

Action counts.  For by their actions ye shall know them.  

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

Friday, August 7, 2020

Pride and Prejudice – 7 August 2020, Anno Domini


A
 MAN’S pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit(Proverbs 29:23)


S
ON of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. 16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. 18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. 19 All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more(Ezekiel 28:12-19)

            The greatest and most profound contrast in Holy Scripture is that existing between the most humble Savior and the most prideful Satan.

            In the Bible we find two contrasting kinds of pride – one sinful and the other legitimate. It is good for a man to take pride in his work which he has performed well and with a Godly spirit. But the sinful kind of pride is that which takes pride in self alone and not in the God who gave you the talent to perform. Self-righteousness is the evidence of pride.

            When we declare the life-style of others sinful, it must be based upon God’s own word that judges sin and not our own opinion only. If we declare a person unrighteous owing to homosexuality, adultery, lying, treason to church or country, etc., that would not be our judgment we are pronouncing, but that of the Word of God. As Jesus commanded, Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. John 7:24 

            When we condemn another for judging, we are, in fact, judging ourselves out of pride unless our judgment is supported by humility and Scriptural truth. Please look at the complete comment Jesus made on judging in this 7th chapter of Matthew: 1. Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Matt 7:1) All of my life I have sadly heard this proclaimed by well-meaning ministers and laity without the full explanation of meaning. If we take that verse out of context with the full statement of our Lord, we render the Church sterile and incapable of judging sin and executing church discipline.  Let us look at the full statement: 

            1. Judge not, that ye be not judged2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

            If we have passed beyond the fifth grade English class in reading, we will be able to discern that Christ is not prohibiting judgment, but He is qualifying it to mean ‘righteous’ judgment. If we are blatant sinners of the same kind as those we judge, we are hypocrites and judging ourselves. But what, again, is righteous judgment? There is only One righteous, and that is God. His Word is true, righteous and immutable. When our judgment is based upon what God terms ‘sin,’ the judgment we judge is not ours, but that of God. How long will the church allow itself to be deceived on this point!

            False pride is based upon our own judgments – Holy pride is centered on God and His Word. A father can legitimately be proud of his children who grow up in the nurture of the word and continue on that course as adults.

            The King of Tyrus mentioned in our introductory text from Ezekiel 28 is no less than Satan himself (termed Lucifer in the pre-fall). Though there was truly a King of Tyrus, his character personified that of Satan. The text is primarily about Satan because no earthly man or king could serve as the covering cherub. Lucifer fell from the grace and presence of God due to false pride. Instead of acknowledging his Maker as God, Lucifer was lifted up in his personal self-acclaim to believe he could rise above God. The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground(Obadiah 1:3)

           If a Christian is censored from speaking his belief in the reality of sin in another, who shall ever open the eyes of the sinner to his plight! It is the spirit in which judgments are made that are attributed to false pride. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 When God says: The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate(Prov 8:13), does this mean that the believer cannot voice that fear and indictment of evil to others?

            Conceit is nothing more than false pride – pride in self! Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him(Prov 26:12)  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted(Luke 18:10-14)  Herein is the greatest example of hypocritical pride in the Gospels. But did not our Lord judge the Scribes and Pharisees to be a generation of vipers and children of their father the devil? Yes, He did; yet, our Lord said He judged no man! How is this consistent with the text? It is consistent because Jesus did only the will of the Father and not His own. He judged with the righteous judgment of the Word of God, and we must do the same. It is a sin of commission to judge falsely out of pride; but it is also a sin of omission to fail to judge sin by the Word of God.       

There are two basic types of pride in the Bible, legitimate and sinful. The first swells from appreciation of God’s character and faithful action in our lives. Many of the Psalms praise God for His protection, provision, answer to prayer (Psalm 34:1-7), and unfailing love. When all else falters and fades away, He remains.

For those who persist in denying the authority to judge by the Word of God claiming it to be prideful, please expound upon the following verses: 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren(1 Cor 6:2-5)

Concluding Note
Judgment must be made in humility, knowing that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Jesus was the epitome of humility, yet He pronounced the judgment of God with forceful impact. Even in judging things sinful from the Word of God, to do so proudly and with self-righteous manner is sin itself. We judge in love and truth.  Pride in the things of God is pure praise and worship. Boasting of one’s own accomplishments – even in doing the labor of the church – is sin. If we build the church, it is not God’s Church. If God builds the Church, we have no place to boast.

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.  (Psalm 127:1)