Friday, April 28, 2017

The Gospel & the Christian’s Reward

God purposely puts an offence in the message of the cross to render it unattractive to self. As a result, those who would seek Him and find Him cannot do so under the power of self, nor from the primary motive of self. Real Christianity is foolish from the world’s point of view,; “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable..” Paul concludes that, from the world’s perspective we lose in this life. But doesn’t Hebrews 11:6 tell us that “he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him?” Yes, but many of the heroes of the faith in that chapter do not look like they were rewarded, unless we have an erroneous view of rewards! Upon a closer examination, it becomes obvious that the rewards experienced by these people were of another nature than those commonly sought after by the world or offered by the church.

When we tell the lost that “God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives,” we must be very clear as to what that plan might entail. If we mean wonderful from the world’s point of view, we not only give false expectations, but also encourage them to seek themselves in religion. Ultimately God’s plan for all these heroes of faith was wonderful;, but before they could arrive at their reward some had to travel the path of “trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonments: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented.” In essence, the way of faith that leads to rewards always directs its travelers down paths of self-denial and self-sacrifice, rather than self-indulgence.”

"The Alluring Brightness of His Glory: Cherishing the Preeminence of Christ above the Counterfeit Offers of a Consumer-driven Christianity" ;R.L. Coursey; (West Bow Press, 2017); page 71

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

Whoever you are, come, celebrate this shining happening, this festival of light.
You, the devout, God’s unshakable lover, and you the servant brimming with thanks.
Come, walk into the joy of your Lord.

You who began before sunrise, come for your stipend.
You who waited till nine in the morning: the feast is for you. And you, the not-till-noonday starter, do not hesitate; you shall not lose a thing.
You who began at only three in the afternoon, have no scruples, come!
And you who arrived just before sunset, forget you were late. Do not be bashful.
Our Master is magnanimous and welcome the very latest with the first.
He will not entertain you less, you of the eleventh hour,than you the dawn toiler. No, not at all.
To this one he gives, and on that one he showers rewards.
Whether you were a success or whether you only tried, he will greet you, make much of your effort, extol your intention.

Let everybody, therefore, crowd into the exhilaration of our Savior.
You the first and you the last: equally heaped with blessings.
You the rich and you the poor: celebrate together.
You the careful and you the careless: enjoy this day of days.
You that have kept the fast, and you that have broken it: be happy today!
The table is loaded. Feast on it like princes.
The milkfed veal is fat. Let no one go hungry.

 And drink, all of you: drink the cup. The vintage is faith.
Feed sumptuously all: feed on his goodness, his sheer abundance.
No one need think he is poor, for the universal empire is emblazoned, wide open for all.

No one need mourn uncountable falls, be they over and over.
For forgiveness itself has reared from the tomb.
No one need fear death; for our Saviour himself has died and set us free.
He confronted death in his own person, and blasted it to nothing.
He made it defunct by the very taste of his flesh.
This is exactly what Isaiah foretold when he declared:
   “Hell is harrowed by encounter with him.”

Of course it is harrowed.
For now hell is a joke, finished, done with.
Harrowed because now taken prisoner.
It snatched at a body and – incredible – lit upon God.
It gulped down the earth, and gagged on heaven.
It seized what it saw, and was crushed by what it failed to see.

Poor death, where is your sting? Poor hell, where is your triumph?
Christ steps out of the tomb and you are reduced to nothing.
Christ rises and the angels are wild with delight.
Christ rises and life is set free.
Christ rises and the graves are emptied of dead.
Oh yes, for he broke from the tomb like a flower, a beautiful fruit:  the first fruit of those already gone.
All glory be his, all success and power…for ever and ever!

Translation by Paul Roche.