Friday, November 15, 2013

Instructions to the Church: # VII

 "Jesus Christ is the Same Yesterday and Today and Forever"
Bishop Eric Menees

This morning we continue our discussion of Hebrews Chapter 13 and the author's instructions given to the church:
 "Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:1-8 ESV)
Verse 8 is the key to this passage, to our redemption, and to our future. As Anglican Christians we believe in ONE God in three persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Therefore, the prologue to the Gospel of John - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." ) (John 1:1-3 ESV) - speaks of Jesus who has been from the beginning of time, and will be at the very end. As Jesus refers to himself in the book of Revelation: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:13 ESV)
Why would the author of the Letter to the Hebrews make this point to the church? Because throughout time, men have tried to make God in our image rather than having the humility to accept the reality of the opposite - we are created in God's image. From the Gnostics of the first century, to the Arians of the fourth century, to modern day heresies, the argument is that God is doing a new thing. Of course, this new thing is actually the old thing. In the first century, the desire was to make Jesus less divine and to make ourselves more divine. That same desire continues today as people push for respecting or accepting the "god within."  Of course, they argue that the way to respect or accept that “god within” is to seek pleasure.
However, when we accept the reality that Jesus is, in fact, who he says he is - The Alpha and the Omega (Rev. 22); the Word made Flesh (John 1); God Incarnate (John 3); The One who was, and is, and is to Come" (Rev. 1) - then, and only then, can we receive the redemption that he gave his life to secure for us. This foundation of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is attested to in Holy Scripture.
Ultimately, it comes down the simple decision of accepting Jesus on His terms and not mine. Personally, I thank God that I have accepted him and seek to mold my life after His, and not vice versa. The peace that comes when we can turn our lives over to Jesus is wonderful. The joy of knowing that he is the unmovable rock of our lives - not changing with every wind or tide - gives my life meaning and hope, not simply for today but for every day, until he comes back again or calls me home!  
Note: The "Notes to the church" articles are written by Bishop Menees for the Diocese of San Joaquin. I have posted them on Soundings with his permission for a wider audience. This is also the case for his "Why I am an Anglican" series. Dale+

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