Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Almost Christian
by John Wesley
(Preached at St. Mary's, Oxford, before the university, on July 25, 1741)
Copyright 1999 by the Wesley Center for Applied Theology
Edited by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades

Just a short notation. While reading this sermon this editor was reminded of a pastor back in Long Island NY, that used to either preface, or insert during his sermons the comment; “I’m talking to me”
Doktor Riktor Von Zhades – Servant of Christ

"Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Acts 26.28

AND many there are who go thus far: ever since the Christian religion was in the world, there have been many in every age and nation who were almost persuaded to be Christians. But seeing it avails nothing before God to go only thus far, it highly imports us to consider,

First. What is implied in being almost,

Secondly. What in being altogether, a Christian.

Now, in the being almost a Christian is implied, First, heathen honesty. No one, I suppose, will make any question of this; especially, since by heathen honesty here, I mean, not that which is recommended in the writings of their philosophers only, but such as the common heathens expected one of another, and many of them actually practiced. By the rules of this they were taught that they ought not to be unjust; not to take away their neighbour's goods, either by robbery or theft; not to oppress the poor, neither to use extortion toward any; not to cheat or overreach either the poor or rich, in whatsoever commerce they had with them; to defraud no man of his right; and, if it were possible, to owe no man anything.*

Again: the common heathens allowed, that some regard was to be paid to truth, as well as to justice. And, accordingly, they not only held him in abomination who was forsworn, who called God to witness to a lie; but him also who was known to be a slanderer of his neighbour, who falsely accused any man. And indeed, little better did they esteem wilful liars of any sort, accounting them the disgrace of human kind, and the pests of society.

Yet again: there was a sort of love and assistance which they expected one from another. They expected whatever assistance any one could give another, without prejudice to himself. And this they extended not only to those little offices of humanity which are performed without any expense or labour, but likewise to the feeding the hungry, if they had food to spare; the clothing the naked with their own superfluous raiment; and, in general. the giving, to any that needed, such things as they needed not themselves. Thus far, in the lowest account of it, heathen honesty went; the first thing implied in the being almost a Christian.

A second thing implied in the being almost a Christian, is, the having a form of godliness; (Read 2 Timothy 3:5) of that godliness which is prescribed in the gospel of Christ; the having the outside of a real Christian. Accordingly, the almost Christian does nothing which the gospel forbids. he taketh not the name of God in vain; he blesseth, and curseth not; he sweareth not at all, but his communication is, yea, yea; nay, nay. he profanes not the day of the Lord, nor suffers it to be profaned, even by the stranger that is within his gates. he not only avoids all actual adultery, fornication, and uncleanness, but every word or look that either directly or indirectly tends thereto; nay, and all idle words, abstaining both from detraction, backbiting, talebearing, evil speaking, and from "all foolish talking and jesting"--eutrapelia, a kind of virtue in the heathen moralist's account; --briefly, from all conversation that is not "good to the use of edifying,' and that, consequently, "grieves the Holy Spirit of God, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.'

He abstains from "wine wherein is excess'; from revellings and gluttony. he avoids, as much as in him lies, all strife and contention, continually endeavouring to live peaceably with all men. And, if he suffer wrong, he avengeth not himself, neither returns evil for evil. he is no railer, no brawler, no scoffer, either at the faults or infirmities of his neighbour. he does not willingly wrong, hurt, or grieve any man; but in all things act and speaks by that plain rule, "Whatsoever thou wouldest not he should do unto thee, that do not thou to another."

And in doing good, he does not confine himself to cheap and easy offices of kindness, but labours and suffers for the profit of many, that by all means he may help some. In spite of toil or pain, "whatsoever his hand findeth to do, he doeth it with his might;" whether it be for his friends, or for his enemies; for the evil, or for the good. For being "not slothful" in this, or in any "business," as he "hath opportunity" he doeth "good," all manner of good, "to all men;" and to their souls as well as their bodies. he reproves the wicked, instructs the ignorant, confirms the wavering, quickens the good, and comforts the afflicted. he labours to awaken those that sleep; to lead those whom God hath already awakened to the "Fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness," that they may wash therein and be clean; and to stir up those who are saved through faith, to adorn the gospel of Christ in all things.

He that hath the form of godliness uses also the means of grace; yea, all of them, and at all opportunities. he constantly frequents the house of God; and that, not as the manner of some is, who come into the presence of the Most High, either loaded with gold and costly apparel, or in all the gaudy vanity of dress, and either by their unseasonable civilities to each other, or the impertinent gaiety of their behaviour, disclaim all pretensions to the form as well as to the power of godliness. Would to God there were none even among ourselves who fall under the same condemnation! who come into this house, it may be, gazing about, or with all the signs of the most listless, careless indifference, though sometimes they may seem to use a prayer to God for his blessing on what they are entering upon; who, during that awful service, are either asleep, or reclined in the most convenient posture for it; or, as though they supposed God was asleep, talking with one another, or looking round, as utterly void of employment. Neither let these be accused of the form of godliness. No; he who has even this, behaves with seriousness and attention, in every part of that solemn service. More especially, when he approaches the table of the Lord, it is not with a light or careless behaviour, but with an air, gesture, and deportment which speaks nothing else but "God be merciful to me a sinner!"

To this, if we add the constant use of family prayer, by those who are masters of families, and the setting times apart for private addresses to God, with a daily seriousness of behaviour; he who uniformly practises this outward religion, has the form of godliness. There needs but one thing more in order to his being almost a Christian, and that is, sincerity.

By sincerity I mean, a real, inward principle of religion, from whence these outward actions flow. And, indeed if we have not this, we have not heathen honesty; no, not so much of it as will answer the demand of a heathen Epicurean poet. Even this poor wretch, in his sober intervals, is able to testify,

Oderunt peccare boni, virtutis amore;

Oderunt peccare mali, formidine poenae.

[Good men avoid sin from the love of virtue; Wicked men avoid sin from a fear of punishment.]**

So that, if a man only abstains from doing evil in order to avoid punishment, Non pasces in cruce corvos, [Thou shalt not be hanged.], saith the Pagan; there, "thou hast thy reward." But even he will not allow such a harmless man as this to be so much as a good heathen. If, then, any man, from the same motive, viz., to avoid punishment, to avoid the loss of his friends, or his gain, or his reputation, should not only abstain from doing evil, but also do ever so much good; yea, and use all the means of grace; yet we could not with any propriety say, this man is even almost a Christian. If he has no better principle in his heart, he is only a hypocrite altogether.

Sincerity, therefore, is necessarily implied in the being almost a Christian; a real design to serve God, a hearty desire to do his will. It is necessarily implied, that a man have a sincere view of pleasing God in all things; in all his conversation; in all his actions; in all he does or leaves undone. This design, if any man be almost a Christian, runs through the whole tenor of his life. This is the moving principle, both in his doing good, his abstaining from evil, and his using the ordinances of God.

But here it will probably be inquired, "Is it possible that any man living should go so far as this, and, nevertheless, be only almost a Christian What more than this, can be implied in the being a Christian altogether I answer, First, that it is possible to go thus far, and yet be but almost a Christian, I learn, not only from the oracles of God, but also from the sure testimony of experience.

Brethren, great is "my boldness towards you in this behalf." And "forgive me this wrong," if I declare my own folly upon the house-top, for yours and the Gospel's sake. --Suffer me, then, to speak freely of myself, even as of another man. I am content to be abased, so ye may be exalted, and to be yet more vile for the glory of my Lord. (Read Colossians 4:4)

I did go thus far for many years, as many of this place can testify; using diligence to eschew all evil, and to have a conscience void of offence; redeeming the time; buying up every opportunity of doing all good to all men; constantly and carefully using all the public and all the private means of grace; endeavouring after a steady seriousness of behaviour, at all times, and in all places; and, God is my record, before whom I stand, doing all this in sincerity; having a real design to serve God; a hearty desire to do his will in all things; to please him who had called me to "fight the good fight," and to "lay hold of eternal life." Yet my own conscience beareth me witness in the Holy Ghost, that all this time I was but almost a Christian.
If it be inquired, "What more than this is implied in the being altogether a Christian" I answer,

First. The love of God. For thus saith his word, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." Such a love is this, as engrosses the whole heart, as rakes up all the affections, as fills the entire capacity of the soul and employs the utmost extent of all its faculties. he that thus loves the Lord his God, his spirit continually "rejoiceth in God his Saviour." his delight is in the Lord, his Lord and his All, to whom "in everything he giveth thanks. All his desire is unto God, and to the remembrance of his name." his heart is ever crying out, "Whom have I in heaven but Thee and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee." (Read Psalm 73:25) Indeed, what can he desire beside God Not the world, or the things of the world: for he is "crucified to the world, and the world crucified to him." he is crucified to "the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life." Yea, he is dead to pride of every kind: for "love is not puffed up" but "he that dwelling in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him," is less than nothing in his own eyes.

The Second thing implied in the being altogether a Christian is, the love of our neighbour. For thus said our Lord in the following words, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" If any man ask, "Who is my neighbour" we reply, Every man in the world; every child of his who is the Father of the spirits of all flesh. Nor may we in any wise except our enemies or the enemies of God and their own souls. But every Christian loveth these also as himself, yea, "as Christ loved us." he that would more fully understand what manner of love this is, may consider St. Paul's description of it. It is "long-suffering and kind." It "envieth not." It is not rash or hasty in judging. It "is not puffed up;" but maketh him that loves, the least, the servant of all. Love "doth not behave itself unseemly," but becometh "all things to all men." She "seeketh not her own;" but only the good of others, that they may be saved. "Love is not provoked." It casteth out wrath, which he who hath is wanting in love. "It thinketh no evil. It rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. It covereth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (Read 1 Corinthians Chapter 13)

There is yet one thing more that may be separately considered, though it cannot actually be separate from the preceding, which is implied in the being altogether a Christian; and that is the ground of all, even faith. Very excellent things are spoken of this throughout the oracles of God. "Every one, saith the beloved disciple, "that believeth is born of God."(Read 1 John 4:7) "To as many as received him, gave he power to become the sons of God. even to them that believe on his name." And "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."(Read 1 John 3:5) Yea, our Lord himself declares, "He that believeth in the Son hath everlasting life; and cometh not into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life." (Read John 3:16, 36)

But here let no man deceive his own soul. "It is diligently to be noted, the faith which bringeth not forth repentance, and love, and all good works, is not that right living faith, but a dead and devilish one. For, even the devils believe that Christ was born of a virgin: that he wrought all kinds of miracles, declaring himself very God: that, for our sakes, he suffered a most painful death, to redeem us from death everlasting; that he rose again the third day: that he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father and at the end of the world shall come again to judge both the quick and dead. These articles of our faith the devils believe, and so they believe all that is written in the Old and New Testament. And yet for all this faith, they be but devils. They remain still in their damnable estate lacking the very true Christian faith." [Homily on the Salvation of Man.]***

"The right and true Christian faith is (to go on the words of our own Church), "not only to believe that Holy Scripture and the Articles of our Faith are true, but also to have a sure trust and confidence to be saved from everlasting damnation by Christ. It is a sure trust and confidence which a man hath in God, that, by the merits of Christ, his sins are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favour of God; whereof doth follow a loving heart, to obey his commandments."

Now, whosoever has this faith, which "purifies the heart" (by the power of God, who dwelleth therein) from "pride, anger, desire, from all unrighteousness" from "all filthiness of flesh and spirit;" which fills it with love stronger than death, both to God and to all mankind; love that doeth the works of God, glorying to spend and to be spent for all men, and that endureth with joy, not only the reproach of Christ, the being mocked, despised, and hated of all men, but whatsoever the wisdom of God permits the malice of men or devils to inflict, --whosoever has this faith thus working by love is not almost only, but altogether, a Christian.

But who are the living witnesses of these things I beseech you, brethren, as in the presence of that God before whom "hell and destruction are without a covering--how much more the hearts of the children of men" --that each of you would ask his own heart, "Am I of that number Do I so far practise justice, mercy, and truth, as even the rules of heathen honesty require If so, have I the very outside of a Christian the form of godliness Do I abstain from evil, --from whatsoever is forbidden in the written Word of God Do I, whatever good my hand findeth to do, do it with my might Do I seriously use all the ordinances of God at all opportunities And is all this done with a sincere design and desire to please God in all things"

Are not many of you conscious, that you never came thus far; that you have not been even almost a Christian; that you have not come up to the standard of heathen honesty; at least, not to the form of Christian godliness --much less hath God seen sincerity in you, a real design of pleasing him in all things. You never so much as intended to devote all your words and works. your business, studies, diversions, to his glory. You never even designed or desired, that whatsoever you did should be done "in the name of the Lord Jesus, and as such should be "a spiritual sacrifice, acceptable to God through Christ.****

But, supposing you had, do good designs and good desires make a Christian By no means, unless they are brought to good effect. "Hell is paved," saith one, "with good intentions."***** The great question of all, then, still remains. Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart Can you cry out, "My God, and my All" Do you desire nothing but him Are you happy in God Is he your glory, your delight, your crown of rejoicing And is this commandment written in your heart, "That he who loveth God love his brother also" Do you then love your neighbour as yourself Do you love every man, even your enemies, even the enemies of God, as your own soul as Christ loved you Yea, dost thou believe that Christ loved thee, and gave himself for thee Hast thou faith in his blood Believest thou the Lamb of God hath taken away thy sins, and cast them as a stone into the depth of the sea that he hath blotted out the handwriting that was against thee, taking it out of the way, nailing it to his cross Hast thou indeed redemption through his blood, even the remission of thy sins And doth his Spirit bear witness with thy spirit, that thou art a child of God

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who now standeth in the midst of us, knoweth, that if any man die without this faith and this love, good it were for him that he had never been born. Awake, then, thou that sleepest, and call upon thy God: call in the day when he may be found. Let him not rest, till he make his "goodness to pass before thee;" till he proclaim unto thee the name of the Lord, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin." Let no man persuade thee, by vain words, to rest short of this prize of thy high calling.****** But cry unto him day and night, who, "while we were without strength, died for the ungodly," until thou knowest in whom thou hast believed, and canst say, "My Lord, and my God!" Remember, "always to pray, and not to faint," till thou also canst lift up thy hand unto heaven, and declare to him that liveth for ever and ever, "Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee." (Read Psalm 119:2; Isaiah 55:6; Psalm 40:8-10)

May we all thus experience what it is to be, not almost only; but altogether Christians; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus; knowing we have peace with God through Jesus Christ; rejoicing in hope of the glory of God; and having the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost given unto us!

* Editor’s notation - Almost being the key word. These are they that would walk the walk, but do so out of the fear of Judgment as opposed to serving as God’s proxies due to their love of Him. One might even suggest that some are Deists, that believe in God, perhaps even unto the point of Him being the God of both the Jews and Christians, but seem to envision him as a watcher that sets things in motion, instead of one that is totally involved in the affairs of men
** Editor’s notation - Herein Wesley shows the difference; virtue verses fear. The former serves and observes all those actions mentioned above because such a one is drawn, via of the love of God, to serve others as God had instructed, seeking no reward other than the approval of our Creator. The latter does so, (perhaps believing in the the principal of salvation via works), out of the fear of eternal separation and rejection from heaven and God. Make note brethren, that being the former does not exclude works, in fact if anything it is very much included, but salvation comes only through the acceptance of Christ as Redeemer.
*** Editor’s notation - Thomas Cranmer (2 July 1489 – 21 March 1556) was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary I - Source Wikipedia. See also Cranmer on Salvation that can be found

Sunday, August 21, 2016

by John Calvin (1509-1564)
Edited by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades

WE have said that the object of regeneration is to bring the life of believers into concord and harmony with the righteousness of God, and so confirm the adoption by which they have been received as sons. But although the law comprehends within it that new life by which the image of God is restored in us, yet, as our sluggishness stands greatly in need both of helps and incentives it will be useful to collect out of Scripture a true account of this reformations lest any who have a heartfelt desire of repentance should in their zeal go astray. Moreover, I am not unaware that, in undertaking to describe the life of the Christian, I am entering on a large and extensive subject, one which, when fully considered in all its parts, is sufficient to fill a large volume. We see the length to which the Fathers in treating of individual virtues extend their exhortations. This they do, not from mere loquaciousness; for whatever be the virtue which you undertake to recommend, your pen is spontaneously led by the copiousness of the matter so to amplify, that you seem not to have discussed it properly if you have not done it at length. My intention, however, in the plan of life which I now propose to give, is not to extend it so far as to treat of each virtue specially, and expatiate in exhortation. This must be sought in the writings of others, and particularly in the Homilies of the Fathers. For me it will be sufficient to point out the method by which a pious man may be taught how to frame his life aright, and briefly lay down some universal rule by which he may not improperly regulate his conduct. I shall one day possibly find time for more ample discourse, [or leave others to perform an office for which I am not so fit. I have a natural love of brevity, and, perhaps, any attempt of mine at copiousness would not succeed. Even if I could gain the highest applause by being more prolix, I would scarcely be disposed to attempt it. While the nature of my present work requires me to glance at simple doctrine with as much brevity as possible. As philosophers have certain definitions of rectitude and honesty, from which they derive particular duties and the whole train of virtues; so in this respect Scripture is not without order, but presents a most beautiful arrangement, one too which is every way much more certain than that of philosophers. The only difference is, that they, under the influence of ambition, constantly affect an exquisite perspicuity of arrangement, which may serve to display their genius, whereas the Spirit of God, teaching without affectation, is not so perpetually observant of exact method, and yet by observing it at times sufficiently intimates that it is not to be neglected.

The Scripture system of which we speak aims chiefly at two objects. The former is, that the love of righteousness, to which we are by no means naturally inclined, may be instilled and implanted into our minds. The latter is, to prescribe a rule which will prevent us while in the pursuit of righteousness from going astray. It has numerous admirable methods of recommending righteousness. Many have been already pointed out in different parts of this work; but we shall here also briefly advert to some of them. With what better foundation can it begin than by reminding us that we must be holy, because “God is holy?” (Read Leviticus 29:1; 1 Peter 1:16.) For when we were scattered abroad like lost sheep, wandering through the labyrinth of this world, he brought us back again to his own fold. When mention is made of our union with God, let us remember that holiness must be the bond; not that by the merit of holiness we come into communion with him, (we ought rather first to cleave to him, in order that, pervaded with his holiness, we may follow whither he calls,) but because it greatly concerns his glory not to have any fellowship with wickedness and impurity. Wherefore he tells us that this is the end of our calling, the end to which we ought ever to have respect, if we would answer the call of God. For to what end were we rescued from the iniquity and pollution of the world into which we were plunged, if we allow ourselves, during our whole lives, to wallow in them? Besides, we are at the same time admonished, that if we would be regarded as the Lord’s people, we must inhabit the holy city Jerusalem, which, as he hath consecrated it to himself, it were impious for its inhabitants to profane by impurity. Hence the expressions, “Who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness,” (Read Psalm 15:1- 2, 24:3-4) for the sanctuary in which he dwells certainly ought not to be like an unclean stall.

The better to arouse us, it exhibits God the Father, who, as he hath reconciled us to himself in his Anointed, has impressed his image upon us, to which he would have us to be conformed, (Read Rom. 5:4.) Come, then, and let them show me a more excellent system among philosophers, who think that they only have a moral philosophy duly and orderly arranged. They, when they would give excellent exhortations to virtue, can only tell us to live agreeably to nature. Scripture derives its exhortations from the true source, when it not only enjoins us to regulate our lives with a view to God its author to whom it belongs; but after showing us that we have degenerated from our true origin, viz., the law of our Creator, adds, that Christ, through whom we have returned to favour with God, is set before us as a model, the image of which our lives should express. What do you require more effectual than this? Nay, what do you require beyond this? If the Lord adopts (Read Ephesians 4:5), us for his sons on the condition that our life be a representation of Christ, the bond of our adoption,—then, unless we dedicate and devote ourselves to righteousness, we not only, with the utmost perfidy, revolt from our Creator, but also abjure the Saviour himself. Then, from an enumeration of all the blessings of God, and each part of our salvation, it finds materials for exhortation. Ever since God exhibited himself to us as a Father, we must be convicted of extreme ingratitude if we do not in turn exhibit ourselves as his sons. Ever since Christ purified us by the laver of his blood, and communicated this purification by baptism, it would ill become us to be defiled with new pollution. (Read Hebrews 6:4-6). Ever since he ingrafted us into his body, we, who are his members, should anxiously beware of contracting any stain or taint. Ever since he who is our head ascended to heaven, it is befitting in us to withdraw our affections from the earth, and with our whole soul aspire to heaven. Ever since the Holy Spirit dedicated us as temples to the Lord (Read 2 Corinthians 6:16), we should make it our endeavour to show forth the glory of God, and guard against being profaned by the defilement of sin. Ever since our soul and body were destined to heavenly incorruptibility and an unfading crown, we should earnestly strive to keep them pure and uncorrupted against the day of the Lord. These, I say, are the surest foundations of a well-regulated life, and you will search in vain for any thing resembling them among philosophers, who, in their commendation of virtue, never rise higher than the natural dignity of man.*

This is the place to address those who, having nothing of Christ but the name and sign, would yet be called Christians. How dare they boast of this sacred name? None have intercourse with Christ but those who have acquired the true knowledge of him from the Gospel. The Apostle [Paul]denies that any man truly has learned Christ who has not learned to put off “the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and put on Christ,” (Read Ephesians 4:22.) They are convicted, therefore, of falsely and unjustly pretending a knowledge of Christ, whatever be the volubility and eloquence with which they can talk of the Gospel. Doctrine is not an affair of the tongue, but of the life; is not apprehended by the intellect and memory merely, like other branches of learning; but is received only when it possesses the whole soul, and finds its seat and habitation in the inmost recesses of the heart. Let them, therefore, either cease to insult God, by boasting that they are what they are not, or let them show themselves not unworthy disciples of their divine Master. To doctrine in which our religion is contained we have given the first place, since by it our salvation commences; but it must be transfused into the breast**, and pass into the conduct, and so transform us into itself, as not to prove unfruitful. If philosophers are justly offended, and banish from their company with disgrace those who, while professing an art which ought to be the mistress of their conduct, convert it into mere loquacious sophistry, with how much better reason shall we detest those flimsy sophists who are contented to let the Gospel play upon their lips, when, from its efficacy, it ought to penetrate the inmost affections of the heart, fix its seat in the soul, and pervade the whole man a hundred times more than the frigid discourses of philosophers?

I insist not that the life of the Christian shall breathe nothing but the perfect Gospel, though this is to be desired, and ought to be attempted. I insist not so strictly on evangelical perfection, as to refuse to acknowledge as a Christian any man who has not attained it. In this way all would be excluded from the Church (Read Romans 3:23), since there is no man who is not far removed from this perfection, while many, who have made but little progress, would be undeservedly rejected. What then? Let us set this before our eye as the end at which we ought constantly to aim. Let it be regarded as the goal towards which we are to run. For you cannot divide the matter with God, undertaking part of what his word enjoins, and omitting part at pleasure. For, in the first place, God uniformly recommends integrity as the principal part of his worship, meaning by integrity real singleness of mind, devoid of gloss and fiction, and to this is opposed a double mind; as if it had been said, that the spiritual commencement of a good life is when the internal affections are sincerely devoted to God, in the cultivation of holiness and justice. But seeing that, in this earthly prison of the body, no man is supplied with strength sufficient to hasten in his course with due alacrity, while the greater number are so oppressed with weakness, that hesitating, and halting, and even crawling on the ground, they make little progress, let every one of us go as far as his humble ability enables him, and prosecute the journey once begun. No one will travel so badly as not daily to make some degree of progress***. This, therefore, let us never cease to do, that we may daily advance in the way of the Lord; and let us not despair because of the slender measure of success. How little soever the success may correspond with our wish, our labour is not lost when to-day is better than yesterday, provided with true singleness of mind we keep our aim, and aspire to the goal, not speaking flattering things to ourselves, nor indulging our vices, but making it our constant endeavour to become better, until we attain to goodness itself. If during the whole course of our life we seek and follow, we shall at length attain it, when relieved from the infirmity of flesh we are admitted to full fellowship with God.

* Editor’s notation - Man’s moral wisdom is naught but a collection of nice thoughts and wishes for which the capacity does exist within, but the will to implement it just cannot be achieved due to his flawed and sinful nature.
Herein one is reminded of Paul’s words wherein he writes:
23 But I see another Law in my members, rebelling against the law of my mind, and leading me captive unto the law of sin, which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death! 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Then I myself in my mind serve the Law of God, but in my flesh the law of sin - Romans 7:23-25

** Editor’s notation - It would seem to suggest that the breast refers to the heart, from which all issues of life come forth. Read Matthew 15:17-19; Mark 7:21; Hebrews 3:12; James 4:8

*** Editor’s notation - There is no such recess of the darkest mind that the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot illuminate and drive back that darkness. Each day, that light, with it’s accompanying holiness pushes that darkness further and further away from the light so as to no longer be seen. If we, as sinners make even one step, nay one crawling foot of progress each day, we achieve victory. Therefore be of good cheer, for Christ our Redeemer walks with us, even if it is as one step at a time.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Unrepentant Reprobate
by Doktor Riktor Von Zhades

4 For it is impossible that they which were once lightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted of the good word of God, and of the powers of the world to come, 6 If they fall away, should be renewed again by repentance: seeing they crucify again to themselves the Son of God, and make a mock of him.
GNV Translation - Ed. 1599

4 For when people have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become sharers in the Ruach HaKodesh, 5 and tasted the goodness of God’s Word and the powers of the ‘olam haba — 6 and then have fallen away — it is impossible to renew them so that they turn from their sin, as long as for themselves they keep executing the Son of God on the stake all over again and keep holding him up to public contempt.
CJB Translation - Current Online Translation

4. Except they cannot rest on baptism for one time and receive the gift from heaven and receive the Holy Spirit, 5. And taste the Manifestation of grace from Allaha and the power of eternity* to come, 6. And then again commit sin, so as they may be renewed in grace from the beginning, and again crucify the Son of Allaha from the beginning and reenter the covenant.
Aramaic Translation - Vic Alexander - Current Online Translation

Allow this editor to preface the sermon by stating the following:

If the wages of sin (Passion) be death eternal, then conversely the blessings of righteousness (Patience) be life eternal. Keep this in mind as we read today’s sermon

Last week we spoke upon the blessings of Patience, and the curse of Passion, (the two boys from Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress) and how the latter would lead towards becoming so hardened against the word of God. Such is the man that we will see below, known as the “man in the iron cage” who tasted the fruits of blessings of God, but sought to seek out the lusts of the carnal flesh even more so, and thereby rejected that word in the end.

Herein below read the dialogue from Bunyan’s book

So he took him by the hand again, and led him into a very dark room, where there sat a man in an iron cage. Now the man, to look on, seemed very sad; he sat with his eyes looking down to the ground, his hands folded together, and he sighed as if he would break his heart. Then said Christian, What means this? At which the Interpreter bid him talk with the man
Then said Christian to the man, What art thou? The man answered, I am what I was not once.
What wast thou once?
THE MAN: The man said, I was once a fair and flourishing professor, (Read Luke 8:13), both in mine own eyes, and also in the eyes of others: I once was, as I thought, fair for the celestial city, and had then even joy at the thoughts that I should get thither.
Well, but what art thou now?
I am now a man of despair, and am shut up in it, as in this iron cage. I cannot get
out; Oh now I cannot!
CHRISTIAN: But how camest thou into this condition?
THE MAN: I left off to watch and be sober: I laid the reins upon the neck of my lusts; I sinned
against the light of the word, and the goodness of God; I have grieved the Spirit, and he is gone; I
tempted the devil, and he is come to me; I have provoked God to anger, and he has left me: I have
so hardened my heart, that I cannot repent.
Then said Christian to the Interpreter, But is there no hope for such a man as this? Ask him,
said the Interpreter.
CHRISTIAN: Then said Christian, Is there no hope, but you must be kept in the iron cage of
THE MAN: No, none at all.
CHRISTIAN: Why, the Son of the Blessed is very pitiful.
THE MAN: I have crucified him to myself afresh, (Read Hebrews 6:6); I have despised his person, (Read Luke 19:14); I have despised his righteousness; I have counted his blood an unholy thing; I have done despite to the spirit of grace, (Read Hebrews 10:29): therefore I have shut myself out of all the promises and there now remains to me nothing but threatenings, dreadful threatenings, faithful threatenings of certain judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour me as an adversary.
CHRISTIAN: For what did you bring yourself into this condition?
THE MAN: For the lusts, pleasures, and profits of this world; in the enjoyment of which I did then promise myself much delight: but now every one of those things also bite me, and gnaw me
like a burning worm.
CHRISTIAN: But canst thou not now repent and turn?
THE MAN: God hath denied me repentance. His word gives me no encouragement to believe; yea, himself hath shut me up in this iron cage: nor can all the men in the world let me out. Oh eternity! eternity! how shall I grapple with the misery that I must meet with in eternity?
INTERPRETER: Then said the Interpreter to Christian, Let this man’s misery be remembered
by thee, and be an everlasting caution to thee”

My friends, do you not see how that lusts of the flesh can lead to destruction? Above dialogue with the man in the cage indicates how, when we receive the good news of the Gospel of Christ that is to say the Gospel of Grace and Redemption and then, like the one whose word is choked out by thorns or fallen upon stoney ground (Read Mark 4:16-19), as such fall away, and return to the desires of the flesh, and the carnal wisdom that is put forth by man?

Friends I beseech you, turn from that path, and continue onward upon the straight and narrow road. Turn neither left, nor right, (Read Deuteronomy 28:14; Joshua 1:7; Proverbs 4:26-27;Hebrews 12:12-13). Keep your eyes and heart secured and focused on the goal, that being the entering of the Kingdom of Heaven. Seek not the riches of this temporal plain, but seek you first the kingdom of Heaven (Read Matthew 6:33)

Also recall from last week, how we read about Esau and the prodigal son. Yet there was a subtle difference; the former, upon losing the blessings of his father, Issac, lamented and cried out how it was unfair, but could no longer repent, for it was too late as he openly renounced his need for inheritance, in fact it hardened his heart even more so as it brought forth hatred of his brother Jacob within it. The latter, the prodigal son, was able to see the error of his ways, and sought to repent with his father, even going so far as to renounce his kinship with him and become an ordinary servant.
* Literal translation of the word “eternity”; the universe - Source Vic Alexander

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Patience and Passion
by Doktor Riktor Von Zhades

13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, bid my brother divide the inheritance withme. 14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge, or a divider over you? 15 Wherefore he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for though a man have abundance, yet his life standeth not in his riches.
Luke 12:13-15


In the book written by John Bunyan titled “A Pilgrim’s Progress” (a reading that is suggested), the main character by name of Christian arrives at the abode of a man called the Interpreter.
Within he finds many strange things, of which one are two young fellows, boys sitting on the floor. One is named Patience, and the other Passion. As the written scene unfolds we read:
Moreover, I saw in my dream that Interpreter again took Christian by the hand and led him into a very small room in which there sat two little children, each one on his chair. The name of the elder was Passion and the other Patience. Passion seemed to be very discontented while Patience remained calm and quiet. Then Christian asked, ‘What is the reason for Passion’s unrest?' Interpreter replied, ‘The Governor of these children would have him wait for the best things that are to be bestowed at the beginning of the next year. But he wants to have his inheritance now, while Patience is quite willing to wait.’ Then I saw a person come to Passion and bring him a bag of treasure that was immediately poured out at his feet. At this the elder child rejoiced and at the same time scornfully laughed at Patience. However, I noticed that very soon Passion’s wealth wasted away, with the result that he found himself left with nothing but rags. “

Recall also if you will the story of Esau and Jacob (Read Genesis 25:29-34), wherein the former sold away His future inheritance for the instant gratification of getting a meal. Likewise in the parable of the prodigal son (Read Luke 15:11-15) who also gave way to his desire for riches and fortune, and ended up in a pig pen destitute.

Friends; too often in this word, we find that many who are Christians, are also trying to live within this world and gratify it’s carnal desires. It may be for possessions, wealth, fame, power; perhaps a combination of all or some of them, but that desire quenches the flame of seeking the riches of the kingdom of God.

Take note of Passion, not only does he glory in his immediate receiving of wealth but he taunts Patience for not doing likewise and joys in the doing of it. Yet in the end, the joy is gone, and what is left is nothing but emptiness, and sorrow*. Now contrast that with the situation of Patience, who takes joy in the knowledge that in due time, according to the wishes of the “Governor”, (who is to be likened to our Heavenly father), waits for the race to be run, and the crown of gold to be placed upon his head; (Read James 1:12)** Ad Victorum Ire Spolia, - to the victor goes the spoils.*** Hence, his joy is from seeking first the Kingdom of God, (Read Matthew 6:33; 1 Peter 1:4), and the knowing beyond all doubt that His riches will be bestowed upon you according to His will and His timetable. 

* In a further part of the chapter about the Interpreter we find a man whose sorrow and grief is beyond repentance. This is to say that he so lusted after the things of this world that he crucified afresh our Savior, (Read Hebrews 6:4-6). It is likely to become the end case of Passion, who will most likely seek immediate riches continually.
** Beatus vir qui suffert temptationem quia cum probatus fuerit accipiet coronam vitae quam repromisit Deus diligentibus se
*** A more literal translation, from what can be gathered in various sources is: The plundering goes to he who is the victor. Admittedly this is a bit more wrong in it's intent, that is to say one would plunder from the loser, it none-the less, sums up well the end result. - Dr. RVZ