Monday, 20 March 2017

Sundays Sermons

For me, the Gospel of John is the book that brings me closer to God. I like the fact that Jesus’ dialogue is so pronounced in this Gospel and that we learn the essential teachings in this book. In John we read the statements of Christ that affirm his unique place as “the only begotten Son of God” and the unique relationship Jesus had as “the Christ.” We learn of God’s love, poured out through Jesus, “that all who believe in him would not perish, but have everlasting life” (3:16).

We have the “I am” statements, which intimated that unique relationship with the Father and the whole household of believers: I am… the Bread of Life, the Light of the world, the Door, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection and the Life, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Vine. All of these statements angered the religious leaders, who realized that Jesus was proclaiming a unique relationship with the Father–and an eternal one, at that. And the one that underlined that was when Jesus said that “Abraham looked forward to his coming…and saw it.” Incensed, the leaders pointed out that Jesus wasn’t even 50 years old and claimed to have seen Abraham!

And Jesus’ response: “Before Abraham was, I Am.” Their anger was justified–for if Jesus was incorrect, then he truly spoke blasphemy: for the official name of God, YaHWeH, is literally rendered, “I Am.” John is such a powerful book and one that should be used to bring people to understand who Jesus was and what his life and death and resurrection was all about. For me, the book that brings me closest to God is that which the closest disciple wrote about the only-begotten Son of God. As the disciple and author wrote: “These things have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that by believing you may have life in his name. "And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.” ETHER 12:27 "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."   3RD NEPHI1:13

This is a subject which has called the attention of all Christendom, from the first to the last of all the sects on earth. Some have supposed the “new birth” to be a change of heart. Others that it is to be converted. While others make a distinction between conversion and the new birth; that to be converted or change our principles is one thing, and to be born again is another. But, first, I would, in order to understand the subject, ask, what is regeneration? What is it to be generated? To be generated is to be begotten and brought forth into the world. To be regenerated is to be begotten the second time. Hence arose the question with Nicodemus when Jesus said to him, except a man be born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God, hw can a man be born again when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb?” This appeared to be marvellous in the eyes of a ruler of the Jews, but Jesus solves the problem, that as man was born of woman in order to come into this world, even so man must be born of the water and the spirit in order to get into the kingdom of God.

We read in the first chaps. of John, that as many as received Christ, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God. By this it appears that they had power to become the sons of God, by receiving Christ and being born of God; that is, of the water and the spirit, upon the same principle that one by being born of woman becomes the son of man. We find also in Matthew. Christ promises to his twelve Apostles that they should sit upon twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel, because they had followed him in the regeneration. But, says one, this regeneration was the regeneration of the heart, a regeneration from sin. Then, according to this, Christ must have been a sinner, and been regenerated from sin; otherwise his disciples could not have followed him, for they could not have followed him in travelling where Christ had not been. But in this regeneration of water they could have followed, for as he went down into the water, even so they could go down into the water and come out again, and thus not only have their hearts regenerated, but also their whole bodies and spirits. But, says the objector, if Christ meant that a man should be buried in the water and come forth out of it in order to be born of the water, how is it that a man is born of the spirit? I answer, upon the very same principle that he is born of water, that is, to be enveloped in the spirit and come forth out of it. Christ says, the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the spirit.. We read in of Acts concerning the Apostles receiving the Holy Ghost, “they were all with one accord in one place, and suddenly there came a sound from heaven as the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost.

By this we learn that the Holy Ghost comes like a breeze of the wind; that as the wind comes upon us and passes off again, we cannot tell from whence it comes, neither do we know where it goes, yet we feel the refreshing. We breathe the air, which seems pure, and our bodies are enveloped in the same. And, to use the ancient mode of expression, we would say we were born of the wind. So it is with the Holy Ghost. When the Apostles received it, it not only filled them, but all the house where they were, so that not only the Apostles, but the whole number who were with them were not only filled with the Holy Ghost, but baptized with it. Hence we discover the truth and propriety of the Saviour's saying, “except a man be born of the water and the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” By passing through these two elements, if we may call spirit an element, we enter the kingdom of God, or his church, and until we have passed through both we are not born of God. Therefore, although we might have been born of water, we are not sons of God. For, says Paul, except we have the spirit of Christ, we are none of his. Consequently it takes both the water and spirit for the door into Christ’s church, and also to make a perfect baptism. Hence, says Paul, ‘there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.’

I hope this has been of some enlightenment for you. I say these words in Jesus Name Amen.


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