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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Repenting of the Original Sin

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Have you repented of the original sin?

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” (Genesis 3:6)

What did the woman base this fateful decision upon? She based it upon the suggestion of Satan.

Satan said: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5).

Satan's corrupt gospel involved trying to be god. This sin made him the enemy of God: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:12–14).

Satan began by causing the woman to doubt God's goodness. Satan responded to God’s warning sarcastically: “Yea, hath God said, . .” (Genesis 3:1). And denied the danger by asserting: “Ye shall not surely die:”(Genesis 3:4). Further, he asserted that God was holding out on them.

Satan then proposed that they would be their own authority through getting wisdom. “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5).

This is still true since all people must either trust God and His Word, or believe Satan’s gospel of self authority and autonomy from God. Satan continues to use the same method, and this is the result: "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”

The way of faith trusts both God’s love and character. Each of us must resist the same temptations that led to the original sin.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:7, 8).

“...without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6).

This is the way of faith: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” (Proverb 3:5–7).

When people choose separation from God, they assuredly are going to experience the fate of Satan and his demons. Their fate is that of a defeated nation.They will share in the fate of their fallen leader (Matthew 25:41).

There is another far better way! Repent of being your own god. Trust God's infinite love and Christ’s promise of a heavenly home. The Lord Jesus says: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10).

Related reading: Repentance is Necessary; Forgiveness Precedes Regeneration; Repentance Unto Life

Friday, October 4, 2019

Formed and Informed by the Bible

Alice C. Linsley

The person who professes to be a follower of Jesus, the Son of God, must also profess to believe the truth of Holy Scripture concerning Jesus. St. Jerome wrote, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”

The Spirit of God breathes through the inspired pages of the Bible, a unique book. God has superintended these texts through many ages so that the Church may test every doctrine by the written Word of God.

We cannot dismiss Church Tradition when attempting to understand difficult Bible passages. For the most part, these have been studied by persons of great wisdom and spiritual discernment and a consensus has been reached on what the passages mean and do not mean.

Schisms have arisen when "strange doctrines" and extra-biblical innovations have been imposed on Christians. Anglicans insist that in the spectrum of Scripture-Tradition-Experience, the Bible is the foremost authority. This is articulated in Article 6 of the Articles of Religion:

Holy Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation. Consequently whatever is not read in Scripture nor can be proved from Scripture cannot be demanded from any person to believe it as an article of the faith. Nor is any such thing to be thought necessary or required for salvation. By holy Scripture is meant those canonical books of the Old and New Testaments whose authority has never been doubted within the church.

St. John Chrysostom warns that, “The ignorance of Scripture is a great cliff and a deep abyss; to know nothing of the divine laws is a great betrayal of salvation. This has given birth to heresies, this has introduced a corrupt way of life, this has put down the things above. For it is impossible, impossible for anyone to depart without benefit if he reads continually with attention.”

Heresies arise when some insist that their experiences of God are as valuable as the written Word of God. Such claims often result from individual experiences that resemble trance like states attributed to the Holy Spirit. This has been the case from the earliest days of the Church. The Church Fathers frequently warned people of this tendency.

In an 1866 sermon, the great English preacher Charles Spurgeon wrote:
I have no right to expect that the Spirit will reveal truth to me without the use of a book when I can find it out for myself with the book. “The Holy Spirit helps our infirmities,” but not our idleness! He is given to us on purpose that He may help us when we are weak, but not that we may be indulged where we are slothful.

The serious seeker after truth will read the Bible as a discipline of life and gradually be formed by the biblical worldwide. This can make one seem odd to those who are being formed by the shallow values and fleeting glories of the world. The one formed by the biblical worldview will face scorn and even persecution, yet this is endured for the surpassing joy of experiencing the love of God through Jesus Christ.

In this life, spiritual yearnings can be satisfied by what we find in the Bible. They will be fully satisfied when finally we enter into His perfect peace. Until that day, we are to dwell on the biblical texts which are "given by inspiration of God" and are "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" so that Jesus' followers may be made "complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16)

Through Bible study one discovers the path to communion with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We gain confidence in the redeeming work of the Savior. We embrace assurance of the gift of immortality through Jesus Messiah. We find healing of the broken heart, a wholesome environment for spiritual growth, the correction of hardness of heart, the satisfaction of forgiveness, and hope in dark times.

The Bible informs us about the Trinity, the purpose of life, the faith that endures, the subtle nature of sin and evil, the necessity of repentance, and the ultimate victory of Christ our God.

John of Kronstandt reminds us that, "In the Holy Scriptures, we see God face to face, and ourselves as we are" (My Life in Christ, Holy Trinity Monastery, 1971, p. 2). Seeing ourselves in the true light of God's written Word is a necessary part of our salvation.

Ignatius Brainchaninov, a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church, exhorts, "Never cease studying the Gospel until the end of your life. Do not think that you know it enough, even if you know it by heart." (The Arena, Diocesan Press, 1970, p. 15)

In his instructions to the young evangelist Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote, "Till I come, give attendance to reading.” (1 Timothy 4:13) The Scriptures to which Paul referred were what we know as the Old Testament, texts available to Timothy mainly in Greek. Today, the Bible or portions of the Bible are available in nearly every written language on earth. That cannot be said about any other book.

Great effort, sweat, and blood have gone into preservation and dissemination of the Bible. To millions the book is precious, a source of light in a dark world. As Psalm 118:15 reminds us, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

Archbishop Foley Beach wrote, "You and I are blessed to have the written Word because of the sacrifice of others who literally gave their lives, preserving it, translating it, and printing it – so we could read it ourselves."

Thomas Cranmer, the architect of the Book of Common Prayer, encourages us to pray:
“Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

Amen. Amen. Amen.