Archive for September 7th, 2018

Image result for the one holy catholic and apostolic churchThe appointed New Testament lesson this past week  was a portion of Ephesians 4.  Here we have the glorious Scripture verses describing the unity of the holy Christian, catholic and apostolic Church. These verses do not described one particular church body, that is, denomination, as the one Church.  These verses describe and proclaim the confession of faith which transcends denominations.  As correctly taught in the Lutheran Confessions, the Smalcald Articles:

For, thank God, a child seven years old knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd. For the children pray thus: I believe in one holy [catholic or] Christian Church

These verses  from Ephesians 4  admirably sum up in the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed:

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all…And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

“Schemes” in NT Greek is literally, “methods”.  The methodologies empl0yed to divide the Church are “every wind of doctrine” that comes along.  Our God given response?

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.

Next the Apostle Paul spells out these “deceitful schemes” which divide the Church.   The Apostle Paul warns about these deceitful schemes:

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Right now the Roman Catholic Church is in the horrors of the evil that has been exposed in the homosexual acts by hundreds of bishops and priests. They have engaged in these sordid acts for a generation.  The deceitful schemes do not happen by the worldlings’ attacks on the Church but by the Baptized members adopting and adapting to the lusts of the flesh and bringing them into the Church, of going back to their old ways. Then justifying immorality by creating self-righteous ‘theologies’ to assuage their consciences.

The danger was and is Christians who “learned Christ” of becoming impure and deceitful and corrupt again.  When Adam was asked by the Lord,”Where are you?”, Adam states he was afraid and so I hid.  When there is sin in the Church, the old Adam wants to keep it hidden and so is deceitful and lying about it, as all the Roman Catholic priests and bishops did.  But this is compounded in the Church catholic by whole church bodies who don’t even try to hide  the fact that, “they… given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity”, such as, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ.   These denominations have made ‘legal’ same-sex marriage and with it a whole host of other aberrant and abhorrent desires and practices. At least, the Roman Catholic priests tried to hide it because they knew it was wrong.  In those Protestant church bodies, they now applaud and praise those who practice immorality. As the Apostle Paul wrote about these shameful sins:

Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1: 320

It is  risky for me to say but if sin can be worse, it is worse in a church body that gives approval of those who practice sin and this is seen as ‘good”. Later in Ephesians, the Apostle Paul encourages the Church, then and today,

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)

The hope is true repentance and the cessation of the sin which means that the pastor or priest must not be allowed to be a pastor or priest any longer.  Take him out of temptation so he be saved in Christ in that true repentance and faith.

Paul begins this chapter speaking of the God-given unity of the Church.  Please note what causes divisions:  immorality. From The Epistle of Jude:

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

What is the Church to do?  Expose evil and as it is written next in Jude:

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Be faithful in Christ Jesus, being sanctified in faith alone in the Lord and praying as we are part of the Lord’s rescue mission to those who are lost but who sadly delude themselves that they are found. 

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