Inescapable Logic

When you assume there is such a thing as evil,
you must assume there is such a thing as good.
When you assume there is such a thing as good,
you must assume there is such a thing as a moral law,
on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil.
When you assume there is such a thing as a moral law,
you must posit a moral law Giver.

If there is no moral law Giver, there is no moral law.
If there is no moral law, there is no good.
If there is no good, there is no evil.

If sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4),
and all have sinned (Rom 3:23),
and if the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23),
then I need a Savior.

If I still need a Savior there must,
still be an eternal, moral law, or…
I no longer need a Savior.

Letter to a Friend on Romans 14:14

The below is a letter to a friend written in response to a query regarding my understanding of Romans 14, and verse 14 in particular. I have removed situation specific particulars, but this is otherwise a faithful representation of the letter.

Thank you for honoring me with the opportunity to clarify.  Reading what follows will be a significant investment on your part, so I don’t take lightly your willingness to engage in this conversation. As I’m confident you can imagine, being willing to stand apart from the overwhelming majority of our Christian brethren on the matter of what we eat is a result of something not lightly considered, and a result of being convicted through years of study that it is not a light issue, but a major contributor to the inefficacy of our witness and inability to be salt and light to our culture. I venture to explain at this length because I am convinced that you also are equally desirous to serve God faithfully.

Having been convinced of this previously from Scripture, I have been fascinated to see in our lifetime the parallels between increasing sexual perversion and increasing obsession with what God calls unclean. Never before in history have shirts and hats proclaimed their dedication to bacon. Only in the extraordinarily decadent empires of history (and never to the degree we have taken it) has there been such a fascination with eating what has never previously been considered food, and we have likewise now surpassed even Rome in the depths of our sexual depravity. I have recognized over time that these things are not incidentally related.

Because it pains me to think “I’m right” in the face of so many legitimately godly people who disagree with me (my father and both grandfathers included, for whom I have enormous respect), and because it would otherwise unnecessarily differentiate my children from their friends (with both present and future consequences), I have on three occasions now gone back to reconsider from the ground up, whether the typical Christian perspective on this issue is correct. No one is entirely objective, but I have been diligent to presume the typical interpretation accurate, so as to read that perspective fairly. Of course, I also originally set out to disprove the conviction I now hold. On each occasion I have finally and reluctantly concluded that if one is willing to do the historical and exegetical work with an open mind to reading the Scriptures on their terms, there really is no other possible conclusion. I am fully cognizant, however, that most people do not have ready access to the details I will share below.

I spoke of two rules of hermeneutics. The first and easiest is to seek the controlling phrase, which establishes the context of a pericope, and is often found in the opening verse; as is the case, for example, in Mark 7 (the ritual washing of hands), Acts 15 (justification by circumcision/law keeping/ethnic conversion), and in Romans 14 (matters of opinion). This rule is often less helpful in prophetic passages, which can range all over the place, even sometimes within the same verse. Prophetic passages excepting, however, it is generally true that we need to seek the controlling phrase.

The second is much more difficult to wrestle with, but bears up under contemplation and investigation. The professor from whom I learned it said, “Hermeneutical principle number one is this: what the text could not have possibly meant to the original inspired biblical author, it cannot possibly mean today.”

My position on contradiction and change is something different from these two rules of hermeneutics.  First, God is immutable; his character never changes (Ps. 102:27; Mal. 3:6; James 1:17, etc.), and second, God (and therefore Scripture) never contradicts Himself (or itself). This does not mean that God doesn’t change instructions to mankind, but what we find is that case laws (specific applications of unchanging principles) are changed, and never moral laws, which are eternal because they reflect God’s character, which is eternal and unchanging. (This is inherent in the meaning of the word moral, which comes from the Latin mores, “customs or manners,” which change with society, but in the case of God are unchanging because He is immutable, i.e., God’s morals are ethical.)

In other words, adultery is not wrong because God flipped a coin and decided it would be so, but it could have been permissible had He decided otherwise. No, it is wrong because God cannot steal and cannot break his word; it would violate His character. Adultery has never been and will never be permissible; this is a moral law that cannot change. In the same manner, anything described by Scripture as “detestable” or an “abomination” is offensive to God’s nature and cannot change. Should a prophet/apostle have suggested that God changed his mind on one of these matters, he would have been rejected as a false prophet, on the basis of Deuteronomy 12:1-13:18, and very specifically of 12:32-13:5.

Deuteronomy 12-13 is an excellent place to practice discerning the case-specific from the enduring principle. I won’t do so here, but note that we find there instructions that guide our worship today, identify false prophets, and establish the second principle for recognition of Scripture (i.e., all subsequent potential scripture must agree with preceding Scripture or it is to be rejected).

So, God’s character does not change, though He may “change his mind,” (this, however, is an anthropomorphism, where something God does is explained in a manner that makes sense to mankind, while God knew from eternity what, for example, Moses and Abraham would say and what He would do as a result). Secondly, God does not contradict himself and Scripture does not contradict itself. This is not to deny that God makes changes in his instructions to mankind, and many examples could be given (e.g., where one is permitted to sacrifice), but these changes are always found to be modifications in application rather than revocations of principle.

So, if we were to take Genesis 9:3 or Romans 14:14 we are going to find something consistent with the meta-narrative of Scripture. Sometimes recognizing this is easy (e.g., Rom 14:14) and sometimes it is somewhat more difficult (e.g., Gen 9:3), but we can ferret out the intended meaning without doubt, if we are willing to submit to whatever Scripture actually says, regardless of what it might do to our present understanding or preferred system of interpretation. So let’s go there, and along the way we’ll hit Acts 10:9-29, and 1 Timothy 4:3-4.

There is no discussion in Romans 14 about whether it is okay to eat unclean meat, nor about whether we ought to keep the Sabbath. The context of the entire passage rules out the possibility of these two items being under discussion. For Paul and for his intended audience these are not matters of opinion; they are incontrovertibly declared by Scripture. And the rule of interpretation helpfully reminds us, “what it could not have meant to them, it cannot mean to us.”

I realize they are matters of opinion today, but we don’t interpret Scripture by contemporary opinion, but by exegesis of the text within its historical and scriptural context.

So let’s do that with Acts 10, because starting there becomes the key to instantly understanding Romans 14:14 (and the rest of the passage). Before we go there, recall that none of the passages which are now taken to suggest God changed his mind about clean/unclean meat (and the Sabbath) had even been written at the time Paul wrote the letter to the Romans. No one held what is today’s popular opinion regarding clean/unclean meat at the time. So the situation is analogous to the following: I am preparing to write you a letter in which I will reveal that God has changed His mind about whether homosexuality is permissible… do you think I will treat that revelation as an aside, as a “matter of opinion,” or will that be a major focus of my letter? How will your opinion of my legitimacy as a prophet from God be affected by that letter? Will you canonize my letter or reject it?

I wrote an actual letter on Acts 10 some years ago to another friend, so I will attach that here. As you ponder the explanation of Acts 10, keep in mind that in Romans 14:14, the word rendered “unclean” is κοινὸν (koinon), which does not mean “unclean,” but “common” or “profane.” This is one of only two places in the KJV New Testament where κοινὸν is rendered “unclean,” and the other occasion (Hebrews 9:13) incontrovertibly confirms my claim, for it should also not be rendered “unclean” but “common, profane, or impure,” as it refers specifically to ceremonial impurity (as opposed to akathartos, which describes morally unclean).  Read on as κοινὸν will feature significantly in Acts 10… (transition to attached pdf).

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Okay… (assuming you have digested the thoughts on Acts 10), we now see that the issue of whether something (or someone) was considered κοινὸν/common, is a matter of tradition… or “opinions”, above and beyond the Scripture’s requirement, which actually accords with the controlling context of Romans 14, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” So rather than having a verse which overturns (at that time) 3000 years of accepted Scriptural authority in a passing comment, what we actually have is Paul saying—in agreement with the surrounding context— that while nothing is common in and of itself, if someone considers it to be common then for that person it is… therefore do not offend their conscience. Please note, furthermore, that the entire pericope is not talking about relaxing Scriptural injunctions (in that case Matthew 5:17-20 would apply and invalidate Paul’s comment), but about issues where an individual goes further than Scripture requires.

Romans 14:14 is typically read as if Paul was suddenly—in the middle of a passage about people who are stricter than Scripture itself—relaxing one of God’s major prohibitions—contra Jesus who specifically prohibited such a thing, and yet we believe that this is something Jesus taught Paul in Antioch or in Arabia. This makes absolutely no sense—and yet we do it. It may be the most common and most egregious instance of eisegesis vs. exegesis ever seen. The preconditioning required speaks volumes about the capacity of human nature to read through selective lenses—and we all do it; I am as guilty as another. I have been repeatedly struck by the grace of God to open our eyes only to that which we are ready to see. O how we depend upon the truth that, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus!”  Would that we would come to understand what it means to, “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit!” “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be…But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit”… and therefore are subject to the law of God, which is, “fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

So…

  1. Romans 14:14 does not say, “there is nothing unclean of itself”
  2. it would violate the logic of the passage, if it did say that
  3. it would have been rejected by the hearers and caused Paul to be rejected as a legitimate apostle if he had said that.

To go back to something you said, is it possible to imagine that someone could engage in homosexuality “to the Lord”? The idea is first unthinkable, but secondly directly contradicts the flow of logic in Romans 14, as I’ve explained above. And this is the scenario Paul’s readers found themselves in—as we feel/think about homosexuality, so they thought about eating unclean meat. And now the legitimacy of the interpretive maxim is revealed: what the text could not have possibly meant to the original inspired biblical author, it cannot possibly mean today.

Finally, and this will take us to Genesis 9:3 and 1 Timothy 4:3-4. Notice how Paul uses “Nothing” in Romans 14:14. It is a universal indicative that is not truly universal: it presumes first the statements of God and is inclusive of “all” but the previously precluded. We find this often throughout Scripture. Thou shalt not work on the Sabbath, period…but the priests are specifically instructed to do so in the Tabernacle/Temple. “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die” (Lev 16:2) …except for the specific time and manner about which I will now instruct him.

Similarly, when God says, “Every moving thing…” we are expected to understand that this doesn’t include the blowfish, which is poisonous, nor the unclean animals which if you were to eat one of the single pair available would eradicate the species. Notice the next word, “even as the green herb” which were also “all” given, except of course those that were poisonous, and except of course, from the Tree of Life.  So, when we read “everything created” in 1 Timothy 4:3-4, we have to read it in the context of the surrounding verses, and in the context of the entire Scripture, knowing that nothing Paul says will contradict what God has already established.

It should be obvious from the surrounding verses what Paul has in mind here; for once again, he is describing extra-biblical strictures, “forbidding to marry and abstaining from food.” So, as you said earlier, is it possible to eat that which God has forbidden “to the Lord” or “if it be received with thanksgiving?”

Let’s apply the logic that is often used to read this passage in another context and see how well it works.

“For every woman God created is good, and no women is to be refused, if she be received with thanksgiving: For she is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

True, every woman God created is good (Gen 1:31), but this doesn’t mean all women may be received with thanksgiving, for that would violate God’s prohibition.

I hope this has been helpful in revealing the logic I was using, and explains a bit more about how we approach Scripture and life. Even more, I hope it was convincing, and if it was not, I would love to hear why not.

Warm regards,

 

Nathan

Understanding Acts 10

Hi, Nathan.

I was wondering if I might dialogue with you about biblical ideas or concepts I am trying to work out from time to time. In short, since completing Called to Obedience and reading Crazy Love a few years ago, I am reading the Bible with “fresh eyes”. There are things in the Bible I read now, which in the past I would have skimmed over or dismissed as irrelevant in our day and age. But now, I struggle with them. For instance Acts 10, Acts 15:29, or 1 Timothy 2:12 (or 1 Cor. 14:34). I value your opinion as someone who thinks hard on such matters, and tries to not let our culture and norms influence Biblical interpretation and application.

Let’s talk about food. What’s in – what’s out? This should be fun, as I know you’ve made dietary choices based upon your understanding of Scripture, and so I’m sure you’ve given it significant study.

In Acts 10, it appears God gives Peter instructions to put away his cultural foibles about clean and unclean food, specifically meat … what say you?

Ted

Well, I like to begin with what is clear and work toward the more difficult, so what better place to begin than 2 Timothy 3:14-17:

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing those from whom you learned, and that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (HCSB)

…“continue” suggests continuity with what has gone before, especially given the emphasis, “that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures.” This is clearly a reference to what we know as the Old Testament, so when Paul goes on to say that “all” Scripture is profitable/useful for “teaching, rebuking, for correcting, and for training in righteousness,” I am struck that I must wrestle with how to apply what we now call the Old Testament, but the original reader would have known as their only Scriptures. Dr. Ben Witherington III writes, “Hermeneutical principle number one is this: what the text could not have possibly meant to the original inspired biblical author, it cannot possibly mean today.” (The Problem with Evangelical Theology: Testing the Exegetical Foundations of Calvinism, Dispensationalism, and Wesleyanism. Kindle Locations 45-46)

Furthermore, I’ve become convinced of this truth, well-articulated by J.I. Packer:

“Keep two truths in view. First, God’s law expresses his character. It reflects his own behavior; it alerts us to what he will love and hate to see in us. It is a recipe for holiness, consecrated conformity to God, which is his true image in man. And as such (this is the second truth) God’s law fits human nature. As cars, being made as they are, only work well with gas in the tank, so we, being made as we are, only find fulfillment in a life of law- keeping. This is what we were both made and redeemed for.”

(Growing in Christ, Originally Published: I Want to Be a Christian. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, c1977. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1996, 1994, 232.)

So…now I must wrestle with how to apply the law of God as found throughout Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. This, I can attest, is no easy task, but a lifelong endeavor fully dependent upon grace and mercy!

As it relates to understanding what Acts 10 says or seems to say, I am bound to figure out how it works with and does not contradict the sense in which Leviticus 11 expresses the character of God. To be more specific, Leviticus 11 suggests that the reason we are to separate the tamei (unclean/defiling) from the tahor (clean/pure) is because, “For I am the LORD your God, so you must consecrate yourselves and be holy because I am holy….” (Lev 11:44), suggesting that this issue goes to the core of our identity—God-imitating, holy people.

Further complicating the issue, Lev 11 suggests that consuming these tamei creatures is an abomination (detestable/abhorrent). Why does this further complicate things? Because an abomination is something abhorrent to our very nature, suggesting that the food laws cannot be a ceremonial law! On this point, it is interesting to note Revelation 21:27; speaking of the New Jerusalem, John records: “But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. “ Suggesting that the categories of clean/unclean, detestable, etc. are still very much in force at the launch of the world to come.

If we make a list of the things God calls abominable it becomes very clear that something which is detestable cannot change: child sacrifice, bestiality, necromancy, hands that shed innocent blood, a lying tongue, homosexuality, sowing discord among brothers, the wages of a prostitute, money earned by betting on dog fighting, etc. We find it impossible to imagine that a single other thing categorized in Scripture as an abomination could change to suddenly being okay. And this is appropriate, for anyone who suggested such a thing would have to be rejected as a false prophet (see Deut. 12-13) and remember Dr. Witherington’s first rule of interpretation). Which leads us to quite a problem because several passages in the New Testament, including Acts 10, seem to clearly indicate that God changed His mind about whether certain meats were to be considered abominable. How can this be?

As an aside, so as not to be distracted by whether or not the clean/unclean foods were specific to the Sinai legislation, note that Noah was aware of which animals could be eaten and/or sacrificed and which could not. This is why he takes a pair of all unclean animals and 7 pairs of all clean animals (Genesis 7:2).

So this leads us, finally, to Acts 10, where upon reading the actual text, we don’t find what we’ve all been under the impression it says. I wouldn’t be surprised if you, as I did, have a mental picture—likely derived from a children’s bible story book—of a sheet full of unclean animals descending from the clouds above Peter, when in fact the text says:

“and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.” Acts 10:11-12 (ESV)

“…and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air.” (NASB)

So this was a sheet filled not just with unclean animals, but all kinds, both clean and unclean, as biblically defined. This will be important, because we are about to encounter a culturally rather than biblically-defined category.

“And there came a voice to him: ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said,

‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.'” Acts 10:13-14 (ESV)

There are a couple things to consider here. First, if the sheet was filled with clean and unclean animals, why would Peter think God was telling him to eat an unclean animal? Imagine if God gave you a vision of a room full of women, your wife included, and said, “Rise, go and take a woman.” Would it even occur to you to imagine that God meant for you to take any woman but your wife? Of course not, because “thou shalt not commit adultery” is ingrained into your psyche. Likewise with Peter; in fact, Peter had even gone above and beyond.

What is the deal with Peter’s comment, “I have never eaten anything that is koinos/common or akathartos/unclean.”? Akathartos is the Greek word referring to something biblically defined as tamei/unclean, morally unclean. Koinos (a word you might recognize from koinonia/fellowship) is a category unfamiliar to us, but very familiar to Peter or any other observant Jew of Jesus’ day. It referred to a biblically clean animal considered to have become profane or common (as opposed to holy/set apart) by virtue of coming in contact with a biblically unclean animal (or unfit for Temple use, though not an unclean animal). This was a category extended to personal application outside of the Temple precinct by cultural tradition, not by biblical mandate.

Peter replies to God’s command to rise and eat by protesting, “But God, not only do I not eat unclean meat (obviously), but I’ve also always refrained from eating anything common, just to be extra careful.” This clean meat, in other words, became guilty by association in the minds of first century Jews.

Now again we come to a phrase where we are under the impression that God makes one statement, when in fact, He says something different. Acts 10:15 is even rendered to give such an impression in some translations.

“And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” Acts 10:15 (ESV)

Because we are unfamiliar with the first century categories of unclean and common, we read this passage as if God said, “What God has made (i.e., “changed to” instead of “created originally”) clean/tahor/katharos do not call unclean/tamei/akathartos.” But this is simply not what God said, it is something we read into the passage!

This is about to make a whole lot more sense! So this happens three times and then the sheet is pulled up to heaven and Peter is left perplexed. And while he is pondering the Spirit speaks to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you.” This is God’s explanation of what the vision meant. Peter understands; in fact, he has three Scriptural occasions to explain what the vision meant and he never mentions food, but somehow this fact escapes us!

First explanation:

“And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.” Acts 10:28-29 (ESV)

Please note that nowhere in the Torah does it say it is “unlawful” for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile, rather this was another tradition that had been added to God’s law; probably with good motivation, which is why God himself came to Peter to explicitly instruct him to ignore the tradition and not to “call any person common or unclean.” I hope you’re beginning to see that food in this passage is nothing more than a metaphor and the topic at hand was people, not food.

The second opportunity for Peter to explain what the vision meant is in Acts 11:1-18. After relaying the same exact story as we’ve just read in chapter 10, note both Peter’s summary of God’s instruction and the summary conclusion of those who listened:

“And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction.” (11:12)

“When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” (11:18)

Again, the message is about Gentile inclusion, about people…nothing about any change to the food laws.

Peter’s third explanation is in the context of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. The topic under discussion was how the Gentiles might be saved.

“And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” Acts 15:7-11 (ESV)

So, what is Acts 10 about? The people of God were told to be holy by making distinctions, between what was holy and unholy, what was clean and unclean, etc. They were, indeed, to be distinct themselves, to be a set apart people by virtue of imitating God’s character. For centuries, they had followed God’s command to distinguish between what God created tahor/clean and what he created tamei/unclean…in other words what animals He made for food and what animals He did not consider food. They had extended the command to distinguish between clean and unclean foods to distinguishing between clean, common, and unclean foods. They had further extended this practice of distinction to people, considering the non-Jewish people either unclean or common (which, in fact, they often were, because of their not practicing the law), but the folks gathered at Cornelius’ home were God-fearers: Gentiles who had voluntarily taken upon themselves the practices of the Torah to the degree it was practical or they were allowed, and God needed to make sure that Peter’s conscientiousness did not prevent him from going with the messengers from Cornelius. Where, in fact, God wanted to demonstrate that He would make no distinction between the Jews and Gentiles, but would give the Gentiles the Holy Spirit by faith, just as he had to the Jewish believers on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.

It is clear that the text of Acts 10 doesn’t say what we are given to thinking it says, and it is clear that Peter did not understand the vision to mean what we are given to thinking it means. Therefore, there is no longer any problem in reconciling Leviticus 11 and Acts 10, and I am now left to ponder Mark 7:19, Romans 14, specifically verse 14, and Colossians 2:16-17. Do they mean what we’ve so commonly thought?

I Saw the Lord

High and lifted up is the LORD on a throne, and his train filled the temple where I stood, and I felt the wind of seraphim wings.

Into the throne room walked a prosecutor, the Adversary, with evil mien. From the throne a voice filled the room, “From whence have you come?”

“From going back and forth in the earth,” answered Satan, “and from walking up and down in it.”

Then the Voice replied, “Have you considered my servant?” and all eyes turned toward me.

Then with dramatic gesture, the Adversary extended his bony finger toward my heart and spoke an octave lower, “This one is a law-breaker!”

I noticed then that One stood on the right of the throne, for he leaned toward the Father and said, “For this one, I died.”

And I felt the floor under me tremble as those above the throne broke forth in thunderous voice:

“Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of Hosts! The whole earth is full of his glory!”

And suddenly I saw that I was clothed in white raiment, and with twenty-four others I cast my crown before the throne, exclaiming, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, the Holy One, to receive the glory, and the honour, and the power, for you created all things, and because of your desire they exist and are created!” And my voice with the others was like a trumpet filling the room, and I saw the Accuser flee.

Then from my knees I saw before my eyes a hand like a stone mason’s, thick-fingered and calloused, and following the arm up I saw an olive-skinned man who beckoned me stand. Rising, he embraced me; then arms extended to grip either shoulder, his eyes gazed into mine a moment and he spoke, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” His eyes smiled as he heard my gasp, and I saw the Lord, and he saw me.

Christmas & Any Day

My Dad wrote a Gospel presentation that I was privileged to read for him. You can listen and/or read it below.  You can read more of his writing at Eager4Truth. He has a real gift for making the potentially complex clearly understandable.

My parents treated the Santa Claus story the same way they treated “Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox,” as an imaginary story designed for entertainment.  I feel sorry for kids playfully misled concerning Santa.  I wonder if discovering the truth fosters skepticism.

If you treat the historic birth of Jesus Christ as you do Santa Claus tales, I urge you undertake some history research.  Read the major historic documents: Paul’s letter to the Corinthians chapter 15, then the accounts from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Temporarily, you can ignore the Christian belief that God supervised their authorship; just evaluate the honesty of the authors and the implications of their reports.

I was about age 20 and had a rich Christian background when I was overwhelmed by doubts.  Why would God allow this, and why that?  I wanted to be a Christian; every alternative seemed shallow or untrustworthy.  I settled on two options: sincere Christianity, or total skepticism about life and the despair that implied.  Given those options I decided I could live with unanswered questions if I had a central core of truth.

I reasoned, if I honestly believe that Jesus is God, then I can believe anything He says.  If He says black is white I can accept that, if I genuinely believe He is God.  So what is the evidence that Jesus is God?  His miracles?  The fact that His enemies found no real fault in Him?  I focused on the resurrection.  If I were convinced that Jesus rose from the dead, I would believe He is God.  I found a book that compiled and analyzed the evidence.  My verdict was solid.  I believed Jesus rose from the dead, that He is God, and that God has communicated with us.

That brings me to Christmas.  Some truth about God is discernable from what He made.  In addition, God sent prophets like Moses.  But the ultimate communication from God to man was for God, the Son, to become a human.  With God as His father and Mary as His mother, Jesus became a baby and experienced humanity.  He served.  He taught.  And as His humanity allowed, He died.  Victoriously, He rose again.

The chapters that follow include partial but sufficient information about why we need a heavenly savior and how to be rescued by the only heavenly savior.  His birth is celebrated on Christmas.  His saving activity is available any day.

Danger

 It was 1962; I was 15 years old.  The showdown was tense.  What I remember most clearly is my dad’s sense of danger.  He warned of war.  A Russian ship with missile supplies was headed toward Cuba. The United States prepared to stop that ship.  Then, the Russian ship turned back.  Dramatic good news!  Yet consider thousands of young children to whom that good news was meaningless because they had been unaware of the bad news.  They were unaware, even though they were in danger as much as all Americans.  Some good news is appreciated only by those who understand the bad news.

A Bold Entrance

The city was well known for its deteriorated conditions.  Our neighborhood seemed safe, but changes were occurring rapidly.  Police were ill equipped to deal with problems.

My wife and I had just awakened and were still lying in bed when suddenly a young fellow entered our bedroom.  He walked around the bed to my side … climbed up onto the bed … and said, “I want in the middle.”

If he had been a stranger, his entrance would have been criminal intrusion.  If he had been a friend, his entrance would still have been obnoxious.  But because he was our toddler son, I was struck by the beautiful security of knowing you are wanted.  I thought of an invitation in the Bible.  “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (KJV)  Christians come boldly to the throne of God, the sovereign of the universe.  Not with the boldness of a criminal, nor the crude, but with the boldness of a child who knows he is wanted.  What a privilege:  to know that God welcomes the prayers of His people.

Because God loves people, because Jesus died and rose again, peace with God and everlasting life are available.  How?  Read on.

Jesus taught a religious leader that for anyone to enter “the kingdom of God” he must undergo a radical change caused by the Spirit of God.  (The Bible, The Gospel of John, chapter 3)

This major change can be called being “saved.”  The Bible teaches that you have “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and therefore need to be saved from God’s condemnation.  This salvation is possible because Jesus died on the cross and rose again.  If you turn from your wrongdoing and trust Jesus Christ to save you – He will.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  (Bible, II Corinthians 5:17)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God …”  (Bible, Ephesians 2:8)

Will you receive God’s gift?  In other words, will you make the decision to turn from wrongdoing and trust Jesus Christ to save you from God’s condemnation?

What If I Become a Christian?

 What kind of life can I expect if I become a Christian?  Answer:  A life of righteousness, peace, joy, and trouble.  All four.

In the Bible, life in the kingdom of God (speaking of the current, spiritual kingdom composed of all who voluntarily submit themselves to Jesus as king and savior) is described as “righteousness and peace and joy.” (Romans 14:17) Other parts of the Bible explain that trouble is also part of a Christian life.  Some of that trouble is just the plight common to everyone living in a fallen world:  disease, natural disaster, abuse from other sinners, and personal errors.  Beyond that, there is trouble purposely caused by people who resent Christians. (2 Timothy 3:12)

What then is the motivation for becoming a Christian, if trouble is part of the package?  One reason is forgiveness.  Jesus said, “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them….”  Matthew 7:12   How often have you broken that law?  That makes you a lawbreaker.  How often have you lied?  That makes you a liar.  “…all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire….”  Revelation 21:8   Catch the reality?  You need forgiveness.

Guilt is disturbing.  Guilt is a warning system – warning because sin (wrongdoing) commonly causes extra trouble and sadness  (Proverbs 13:15).  Guilt warns of Hell.  Unforgiven sinners are sent to Hell.  Seek forgiveness.  Only the holy Creator can provide the forgiveness we need.

Men have various ways of dealing with guilt, such as

(1) “Compared to other people I’m pretty good.”  But that comparison doesn’t satisfy God.  By His standard, you fall short.  Having a lot of company in Hell won’t relieve the pain.

(2) “I’ve tried my best; surely that’s enough to satisfy God.”  “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God ….”  Romans 3:23  “…if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for in vain.”  Galatians 2:21 (In other words, if we could obey well enough to gain righteous status, there was no need for Christ to die.)

(3) I’m, at the core, in my own way, spiritual.”  Catch the chill in God’s response. “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble!”  James 2:19

(4)  “Evolution shows that we are basically animals; the result of  thoughtless chance.  So there’s no basis for permanent definitions of good and evil; ultimately morality is just popular preferences.”  If someone invades your house, steals your valuables, kidnaps a family member, and then is apprehended; will you stick to the idea that good and evil are merely preferences?  Surely you wouldn’t expect someone to go to jail for having a different preferred morality?  My guess is that in your heart you believe in right and wrong, which comes from an Almighty Judge.

Truth is, your guilt is well founded.  You need forgiveness from the Almighty Judge.  The good news is that the Almighty Judge loves people.  He designed a way for justice to be satisfied.  Jesus Christ, the

Son of God, was crucified, buried, and rose again as the means whereby people like you and me can be forgiven.  If you turn from your wrongdoing (the Bible term is “repent”), and trust Jesus Christ to save you from God’s condemnation, He will.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life ….”     Romans 6:23  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

Now back to where this article started.  The same One who tells the truth about trouble can be trusted to lead into “righteousness and peace and joy….”  It’s all part of the kingdom of God which lasts forever.  Romans 14:17

How does a person become a Christian?

Realize that I, by nature, am not acceptable to God because I violate what is morally right – because I fail to meet God’s requirement for righteousness.  Romans 3:23

Realize that by myself I cannot achieve acceptance by God, rather I am separated from God and destined for His wrath.  Romans 3:23, John 3:36

Believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again to save us from separation from God. Romans 5:8

Make a decision –

To turn from wrongdoing to living God’s way (i.e. “repent” – which refers to our intention)  Luke 13:3, Luke 24:47

To trust God to save me, freely – as a gift; i.e. trust (put my faith in, believe in) Jesus Christ as my personal savior. Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:36

Safety in Numbers?

 Both my parents died from pancreatic cancer.  Pretend a doctor told me, “You have advanced pancreatic cancer,” or “Your wife has advanced pancreatic cancer.”  Then he said, “But don’t feel bad. That is a common way to die.”  Would knowing that death from pancreatic cancer is common take away my pain?  I don’t think so.

Suppose a person is guilty of sexual immorality.  Will God say, “No problem, sexuality immorality is common in the United States today?”

We don’t need to guess.  The Bible says, “Now the works of the [sinful nature] …which are: adultery, fornication … those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  (Galatians 5:19-21)   Jesus spoke of the alternative to the kingdom of God:  “hell fire – where…the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:47-48)   What if “hell” is not physical fire forever?  What if everlasting fire is just a word picture?  First, it may be actual fire.  Second, anything that Jesus accurately pictures as everlasting fire will be horrible.

For anyone willing to face up to the bad news, good news is available.  A person currently on route to everlasting torment can be rescued.  Because Jesus died and rose again, rescue is available.  If you decide to begin living right and trust God to put you in the kingdom of God, He will – as a gift.  The same Bible that pictures hell describes the kingdom of God as “righteousness and peace and joy.”  Romans 14:17  Please understand, as long as you are in this world there will be problems, but being at odds with God need not be one of them.

Children Should Know

God is powerful, more powerful than anyone else, more powerful than everyone else put together.  God made people.  The sky is beautiful because God made it that way.  Trees and flowers are nice because God made them that way.  Animals are fun to watch because God made them that way.  Food tastes good because of God.  Families were God’s idea.  God loves people.

Everyone should obey God.  Whatever God requires is right.  Disobeying God causes trouble, sadness, and punishment from God.

Because we do bad things and sometimes have bad attitudes, we deserve terrible punishment.  Everyone who ignores God will get that punishment.  But because God loves people there is a way to be saved from God’s anger.

“…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus …”

“For by grace you have been saved through faith”
Jesus Christ is God’s son.  He is God but He is a man also.  He didn’t deserve to be killed, but God was willing for Him to suffer for us.  After He suffered and died, He came alive.  He’s alive now.

Because Jesus died and became alive God offers you a gift.  The gift includes God forgiving all your wrongdoing, treating you as His child, and letting you live in His new world forever.  This gift is for you if you want to turn away from being bad and will receive the gift by simply trusting God to give it to you.  Trusting  –  that’s also called “faith.”  Another way to say it is “believe.”  Do you want to obey God?  Will you trust Jesus to forgive you?

We can read about God and His thoughts in God’s book, the Bible.  Some sections of the Bible that describe God’s gift are John 3:16, Romans 6:23, and Ephesians 2: 8-9.

 Let’s Be Straight Up

 If a person is driving a stolen car, he isn’t eager to meet with a police officer.   Likewise, if a person is living in an immoral way, he isn’t eager to hear from God, unless that person wants to change.  In that case, undeserved kindness and help is available.

Beware of designing your own religion; it won’t be accepted.  It is true that God offers grace (undeserved kindness).  It is true that Jesus died and rose again as part of a forgiveness plan.  But someone can only be accepted by God on God’s terms. To be forever rejected by God is disastrous  To be accepted by God becomes heavenly.  I urge you to accept God’s provision for a new life.  The change was labeled by Jesus as being “born again.”

Yours For the Taking

Years ago I was teaching some boys in a Bible class.  I wanted to illustrate that everlasting life, new quality of life, and forgiveness (the whole salvation package) is received by faith.  It is a gift offered to anyone willing to turn from his wrongdoing (the Bible word is “sin”) and trust Jesus to save him.

I offered one boy a penny.  He took it.  I took off my watch and offered it.  He just sat there.  What made the difference in his responses?  I took it as faith, assuming he believed I would give him a penny, but didn’t believe I’d give him my watch.

Everlasting life, new quality of life, and forgiveness together is a gift.  If you decide to turn away from wrong (sin) and trust Jesus Christ to be your savior (in other words:  to save you) from the wrath and judgment of God, it’s like reaching out to take an offered gift.  Through that faith, the gift becomes yours.

I don’t know what I would have done if he had reached for the watch.  But God’s offer is for sure.  God the Son became a man, died, and rose again in order to provide this opportunity.

The Bible says “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  And “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God.”

Will you decide to turn from your wrongdoing and trust Jesus to save you from the wrath and judgment of God?

*****

If you become a Christian, identify yourself as one by being baptized.  Find a church where people are faithful to the Bible and get involved. A person thrives as a Christian by continuing to turn from any wrongdoing and trusting God to help him live rightly.

*****

Copyright © 2017 Scott R. Long
Contentment Publishing
6516 Georgetown Lane   Ft. Wayne IN 46815

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, Copyright © 1982 by
Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Prayer on July 16 (Year A)

The hour is coming, and is now here,
when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth,
for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John 4:23

Preparation

O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, Sovereign God, creator of all,
to you be glory and praise for ever.
You founded the earth in the beginning
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
In the fullness of time you made us in your image,
and in these last days you have spoken to us
in your Son Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

As we rejoice in the gift of your presence among us
let the light of your love always shine in our hearts,
your Spirit ever renew our lives
and your praises ever be on our lips.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.

Seek the Lord while he may be found
call upon him while he is near.

Let the wicked abandon their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.

Turn back to the Lord, who will have mercy;
to our God who will richly pardon.                                                                           cf Isaiah 55

A time of silence and self-examination may be kept

Lord God,
we have sinned against you;
we have done evil in your sight.
We are sorry and repent.
Have mercy on us according to your love.
Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin.
Renew a right spirit within us
and restore to us the joy of your salvation,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Amen.                                                                                                                                  cf Psalm 51

May the Father of all mercies
cleanse us from our sins
and restore us in his image
to the praise and glory of his name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Blessed be the Lord,
who has heard the voice of our prayer.
Therefore shall our hearts dance for joy
and in our song will we praise our God.                                                               Psalm 28:7,9

The Word of God

Psalm 106:6-12

Refrain The Lord remembered his covenant.

We have sinned like our forebears;
we have done wrong and dealt wickedly.

In Egypt they did not consider your wonders,
nor remember the abundance of your faithful love;

they rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea.
But he saved them for his name’s sake,
that he might make his power to be known.

He rebuked the Red Sea and it was dried up;
so he led them through the deep as through the wilderness.

He saved them from the adversary’s hand
and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.

As for those that troubled them, the waters overwhelmed them;
there was not one of them left.

Then they believed his words
and sang aloud his praise. R

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

Leviticus 23:33-44

33 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 34 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of booths for seven days to the LORD. 35 On the first day shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no regular work. 36 Seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day shall be a holy convocation to you. You shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly; you shall do no regular work.

37 “ ‘These are the appointed feasts of the LORD which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering, a meal offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, each on its own day— 38 in addition to the Sabbaths of the LORD, and in addition to your gifts, and in addition to all your vows, and in addition to all your free will offerings, which you give to the LORD.

39 “ ‘So on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruits of the land, you shall keep the feast of the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. 40 You shall take on the first day the fruit of majestic trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. 41 You shall keep it as a feast to the LORD seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations. You shall keep it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in temporary shelters** for seven days. All who are native-born in Israel shall dwell in temporary shelters,†† 43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in temporary shelters‡‡ when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’ ”

44 So Moses declared to the children of Israel the appointed feasts of the LORD.

Splendour and majesty are yours, O God;
you are exalted as head over all.

Blessed are you, God of Israel, for ever and ever,
for yours is the greatness, the power,
the glory, the splendour and the majesty.
Everything in heaven and on earth is yours;
yours is the kingdom, O Lord,
and you are exalted as head over all.
Riches and honour come from you
and you rule over all.
In your hand are power and might;
yours it is to give power and strength to all.
And now we give you thanks, our God,
and praise your glorious name.

For all things come from you,
and of your own have we given you.                                                1 Chronicles 29.10b-13, 14b

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

Splendour and majesty are yours, O God;
you are exalted as head over all.

Mark 9:81-3

Suddenly looking around, they saw no one with them any more, except Jesus only.

As they were coming down from the mountain, he commanded them that they should tell no one what things they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept this saying to themselves, questioning what the “rising from the dead” meant.

11 They asked him, saying, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”

12 He said to them, “Elijah indeed comes first, and restores all things. How is it written about the Son of Man, that he should suffer many things and be despised? 13  But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they have also done to him whatever they wanted to, even as it is written about him.”

Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead
And Christ shall give you light.
You have died and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.
And Christ shall give you light.
When Christ our life appears you will appear with him in glory.
Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

Proverbs 22:28-29

28 Don’t move the ancient boundary stone
which your fathers have set up.

29 Do you see a man skilled in his work?
He will serve kings.
He won’t serve obscure men.

Prayers

Intercessions are offered

for the day and its tasks
for the world and its needs
for the Church and her life

These responses may be used

Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer

Silence may be kept

The Collect of the day is said

Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church
is governed and sanctified:
hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,
that in their vocation and ministry
they may serve you in holiness and truth
to the glory of your name;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Amen.

The Conclusion

The Lord bless us, and preserve us from all evil,
and keep us in eternal life.

Amen.

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Prayer on July 15 (Year A)

Preparation

O MOST holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity,
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three persons and one God,
infinite in power, wisdom and goodness,
our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier;
our Owner, Governor, and Father; hear our prayers,
and have mercy upon us, miserable sinners.                                         after Richard Baxter

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

Night Has Passed/Morning Has Broken

The Word of God

Let your word be spoken and heard by us as the word of God:
Give us attentive, hearing ears,
and opened, believing, understanding hearts,
that we may no more refuse your calls,
nor disregard your merciful, outstretched hand,
nor slight your counsel and correction;
but be more ready to hear,
than to give the sacrifice of fools.                                                                Ecclesiastes 5:1

Psalm 106:1-5

Refrain: The Lord remembered his covenant.

Praise the LORD!
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his loving kindness endures forever.
Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD,
or fully declare all his praise?
Blessed are those who keep justice.
Blessed is one who does what is right at all times.
Remember me, LORD, with the favour that you show to your people.
Visit me with your salvation,
that I may see the prosperity of your chosen,
that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
that I may glory with your inheritance. R

Silence may be kept

O Lord God, full of mercy and pity, who did many times deliver your people from their adversity: Remember us O Lord, according to the favour you bear for your people, and visit us with your salvation, that though we have done amiss, and dealt wickedly against you and against your covenant, yet be pleased to help us for your Name sake, and make your power to be known in the mighty deliverance and redemption of us from so great danger and misery. Give us grace to believe your words, to abide your counsels, to walk in your Laws, and to relinquish our own sinful and vain desires. Pity us, and save us according to the multitude of your mercies. Your Name be blessed, O Lord God, everlasting, and world without end, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Leviticus 23:23-32

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, there shall be a solemn rest for you, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no regular work. You shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.’ ”
 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “However on the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement. It shall be a holy convocation to you. You shall afflict yourselves and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. You shall do no kind of work in that same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whoever it is who shall not deny himself in that same day shall be cut off from his people. Whoever does any kind of work in that same day, I will destroy that person from amongst his people. You shall do no kind of work: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall deny yourselves. In the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall keep your Sabbath.”

 

A Song of Jerusalem our Mother

Refrain:
Thus says our God, I will comfort you,
you shall see and your heart shall rejoice.

‘Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,
all you who love her,’ says the Lord.

‘Rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her,

‘That you may drink deeply with delight
from her consoling breast.’

For thus says our God,
‘You shall be nursed and carried on her arm.

‘As a mother comforts her children,
so I will comfort you;

‘You shall see and your heart shall rejoice;
you shall flourish like the grass of the fields.’              Isaiah 66.10, 11a, 12a, 12c, 13a, 14a, b

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

Thus says our God, I will comfort you,
you shall see and your heart shall rejoice.

Proverbs 22:26-27

Don’t you be one of those who strike hands,
of those who are collateral for debts.
If you don’t have means to pay,
why should he take away your bed from under you?

A song may be sung       Suggestion: “He Does Abide”[1]

 

Mark 9:2-8

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John, and brought them up onto a high mountain privately by themselves, and he was changed into another form in front of them. His clothing became glistening, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. Elijah and Moses appeared to them, and they were talking with Jesus.
Peter answered Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let’s make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” For he didn’t know what to say, for they were very afraid.
A cloud came, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly looking around, they saw no one with them any more, except Jesus only. [2]

 

Prayers

Prayers may include these concerns:

Our homes, families, friends and all whom we love
Those whose time is spent caring for others
Those who are close to death
Those who have lost hope
The worship of the Church

Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer

Silence may be kept

The Collect of the day or the following is said

O God, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.

The Conclusion

The Lord bless us, and preserve us from all evil,
and keep us in eternal life. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God. [3]

 


[1] The Brilliance

[2] All Scripture from the World English Bible: British Edition (WEBBE)

[3] N. Andrew Long. The Offerings of Our Lips: Prayer in Community. Nampa, ID: In(habit) Media, 2017.