Friday, November 7, 2014

Bishop's Note: Collect for the 22nd Week of Pentecost - Proper 27

Bishop Eric Menees

"O God, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves even as he is pure; that, when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen."

This week's Collect is a powerful one that speaks to the character of God and the mission of His only begotten son - Jesus Christ.  God's character is revealed in His continuous desire to be reconciled with His primary creation - man.  The two primary obstacles to that reconciliation are Satan and man himself.  Jesus' mission, therefore, is to bind and destroy Satan and to adopt and reconcile man to the Father.

Jesus, of course, is first recorded as confronting Satan following Jesus' baptism and his preparation in the desert, when he faced the temptations of Satan.  Jesus is able to foil Satan and resist his temptations by reliance upon the Word of God.  Jesus demonstrated to us how to resist the devil's temptations.  Jesus, just a year or so later teaches his disciples that they also have power, in the Name of Jesus, over Satan.  What liberation - what joy - to know that despite what Hollywood says, Satan has no power over us if we but resist him in the mighty name of Jesus!  "17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!' 18 And he said to them, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.'" (Luke 10:17-19)

Even though Jesus has taught us to temporarily bind Satan and his demons with Jesus' own mighty name, the ultimate destruction of Satan and his demons will come with Jesus' return and the great apocalypse described in the Revelation of St. John.  Because God's Word announces Jesus' victory in advance, we need not worry about that aspect of the future. Instead we are too focus on the present and learning what it means to be God's adopted children.

This is the second part of this collect - that we who believe in the name of Jesus are adopted as Children of God.  This is a very important doctrine of the church, and a place where too many mainline denominations have gotten it wrong.  I came to Christ as a young man and just took as gospel what the Episcopal church was teaching; that "...all people are children of God."  I never challenged that teaching until one day, in reading the the first chapter of the gospel of John, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit.  What did I read?  11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:11-13, emphasis added)  Scripture is clear that not all of us are children of God, but only those who receive Jesus and believe in his name!  

Why is this so important?  Because, if we buy the lie that ALL people are children of God, then there is no need to share the gospel with anyone; no need to invite people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  By not sharing the gospel and inviting people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ we are saying, in effect, "Go to hell; I don't really care about you."

This is not to say that we can neglect to treat every person with the utmost dignity, love, and charity.  Why?  Because scripture is clear that we are all created in the image of God and are therefore deserving of respect!

Ultimately, we can only bind Satan, treat all people with respect and dignity, and share the Gospel with others, because God answers our prayers!  Remember that this Lord's Day, as you gather together for worship.

Catechism Questions 37 - 39

37.    What other books does the Church acknowledge?
The canon of Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation. The fourteen books of the Apocrypha may also be read “for example of life and instruction of manners,” but “not to establish any doctrine” (Articles of Religion, 6).
38.    Who is God?
God is one divine Being eternally existing in three divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is the Holy Trinity. (Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19)
39.    According to Holy Scripture, what is the nature and     character of God?

“God is love” (1 John 4:16). Sharing an eternal communion of love between the three Persons, God loves and mercifully redeems fallen creation. “God is holy” (Psalm 99; Isaiah 6:1-4). God is utterly transcendent, good, righteous, and opposed to all sin and evil. God’s love is holy, God’s holiness is loving, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the fullest expression of God’s whole character. (Hebrews 1:3; John 1:18; 17:21; Colossians 1:19)

No comments: