Thursday, July 5, 2018

Bishop’s Note: July 05, 2018 – The “Jerusalem Declaration” and the Bible

Bishop Eric Menees

I pray that your Independence Day celebrations were blessed and relaxing. The whole question of freedom is an important one that often gets overlooked in the spiritual life. As Christians, we are free in Christ, as St. Paul wrote in his epistle to the church in Galatia: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

This week in the “Bishop’s Note,” we continue our examination of the “Jerusalem Declaration” at point #2:

We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading.

As a bishop, I wear a mitre. A mitre is a pointed hat that has two tassels hanging down the back of the neck. This is to remind me, and others, that my apostolic ministry is fueled by the Holy Spirit; the point signifying the tongues of fire described in the books of acts with the coming of the Holy Spirit. My apostolic ministry is also and under the authority of the Holy Scriptures; the two tassels represent the ribbons in a bible signifying the Old and New Testaments. Of course, it is not only bishops who are under the authority of scripture – in the baptismal rite, and again in the confirmation rite, the candidates proclaim their submission to Jesus and his Word. From the baptismal liturgy:

Question: Do you turn to Jesus Christ and confess him as your Lord and Savior?
Answer: I do.
Question: Do you joyfully receive the Christian Faith, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments?
Answer: I do.
Question: Will you obediently keep God’s holy will and commandments, and walk in them all the days of your life?
Answer: I will, the Lord being my helper.

The Word of God provides the believer with instructions on how we are to relate to God and to one another. In simple terms, the Word of God is the rudder on a sailboat. When a sailboat has a rudder, the course can be charted in safe waters and progress can be made. When a sailboat has no rudder, the boat is at the mercy of the seas and the winds, unable to chart a course or stay away from the shoals.

Freedom in Christ is found in our submission to Jesus and his Word. All of us are under authority. However, when we believe the lie that we are our own authority, then rather than being free we find ourselves under the yoke of slavery – slavery to self and slavery to sin.

My hope and prayer are that we can all live into our baptismal vows, honor God, and live fruitful lives through submission to the Word of God.

I pray you all every blessing and peace.

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