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Posts Tagged ‘Reconciliation’

Reviewing Our Call to a Deeper Walk With Jesus

Return to Jerusalem

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?”  (Jn.14:26-28)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I think it is very important that we have a clear understanding of what it means to be a “Disciple of Jesus Christ”. It is important, because it is in God’s purpose that all believers in Christ be aware of and understand, His call to enter into a discipleship relationship in Jesus His Son.  In order to do so I believe that we must first understand what Jesus meant when He used the term “disciple”. I say this because if we really feel called to a true discipleship relationship with Jesus, that is where we have to start.

In general, the term “to be a disciple” meant and still means is to submit to being taught through a specific discipline. In Aramaic, it referred to the training/discipline you receive as an apprentice, where you learn by observing and doing what your master/teacher does.

What does it really mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?

All Christian believers are expected to be “disciples” in that our lives should model the Love that motivated Jesus in every respect.  If practiced according to New Testament scripture, it is not based on our effort to be good and loving, but the process whereby the Holy Spirit works in us to “conform us to the image of Christ” (Rom.8:29) so that our becoming is the result of His indwelling presence in us. It is a process that begins when we yoke ourselves to Christ so that He can do the Father’s works through us! But it requires a decision on our part, a decision beyond accepting the free gift of salvation in Jesus as savior.

Discipleship involves a Transformation

The Holy Spirit can only begin His work in us to conform us to the image of Christ, when we explicitly and freely yield to Him for that purpose. This decision involving the giving of ourselves for this purpose is very emphatically stated in Paul’s Letter to the Romans:

Seek the Spirtual Renewal of Our Minds

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

God uses our offering of ourselves to mold us in to the image of Christ so that that point on in our lives, the Spirit of Jesus will be manifested in us and though us! This is what is meant when Paul states: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom:8-29)

Now, we know from the Gospels that Jesus said He never did anything of His own will but according to the will of the Father, He also said that He only did what He saw the Father doing and said what the Father told Him to say. If he healed the sick and cast out demons, it was because He was accomplishing the Father’s purposes for Him in His ministry to others.

Discipleship Entails Carrying Our Cross Daily

So too, if we are being conformed to Jesus, the process will involve being His apprentices (disciples) and yielding ourselves fully to the Holy Spirit so He can work in us and through us in doing nothing but what the Father wants us to do in fulfilling His purposes for us. In doing so we have to follow Him in the Spirit, die to our own self-will, carrying our cross of self-denial daily in order to truly be a disciple of Jesus, in the way that Jesus used the term.

We enter this level of discipleship only when we willingly, out of Love, offer ourselves as a living sacrifice (Rom.12:1), emptying ourselves of our own self-will so that He may Increase in us as His Will is done through us! The purpose of a disciple, then, is not so much “bringing people to Christ” but rather “bringing Christ to people” by letting His Kingdom of Love manifest through us.

Many are Called but Few are Chosen

I think we are all aware that in today’s world, we apply the term “disciple” or “discipleship” in a much looser framework. Many Christians use the term in alluding to their service in the church. We use this term to describe the time we give to ministry,   even when we are usually serving our own ambitions by doing religious work for Him rather than listening and doing what He really wants to do through us.

Others, like myself use the term “disciple” as a synonym to “believer” (although I have now, personally, relented from doing so). Even in the New testament, apart from Jesus’ declarations, we see the term used with a variety of connotations in reference to believers. For instance Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are referred to as “disciples” in John’s Gospel, even though they did not actually  follow Jesus and did not declare themselves openly because “they were afraid of the Jews”.

I point this out because I just want to make it clear that the term “discipleship” that will be under discussion in this posting is with regard to what Jesus originally meant by the term, not what it later came to mean. The scripture quoted in the header is an example of what Jesus meant by a “disciple”.

The first hurdle we have to cross in coming to a clear understanding is that, while all disciples are believers, not all believers are disciples. A believer receives the free gift of salvation and reconciliation with the Father at the cost of Jesus’ giving of His life for us when he/she accepts Jesus as their personal Savior and repents of their sins in a sincere conversion and subsequent baptism. However, although the new believer also receives a calling to be a disciple of Christ as part of the graces at baptism, not all believers respond to the call to discipleship – essentially, to yield to the Holy Spirit to conform us to Christ and be yoked to Him so as to be His partners in bringing forth the Kingdom.

All believers are called to discipleship but not all, for a variety of reasons, respond to the call. The main reason being, that we are not taught clearly about what discipleship really entails and so we mainly follow traditional thinking that the call to discipleship is merely the call to full time ministry, which is not the case at all, it is a call to yield full control of our lives to Jesus so that HE may continue HIS service to humanity through us!

Discipleship is a Life Consecrated to Jesus

Besides receiving their calling as adopted sons of the Father,  all Christians are also called to be disciples. However accepting this call is left as a free choice to every believer.  To be a disciple is not compulsory to receiving salvation or adoption as children of God.

It is a free choice because it must be a decision that is made out of the deepest love for God.  A decision to yield oneself entirely to  Him so that He, and He alone, may  reign in us! A decision to give up our right to ourselves so that God Himself, through His Spirit, can work in us and through us to accomplish his purpose for us in this world!  And His purpose for us in this world is to bring His Kingdom into manifestation through His Love which he has poured into us by His Holy Spirit!  It is volunteering to be a worker in His Harvest regardless of the cost.

The purpose (or calling) of a disciple is to be a stand-in for Jesus and act in Jesus’ name and in His Spirit to continue Jesus’ ministry to the world – that is, to proclaim and LIVE the Good news of the Kingdom with signs following and to make disciples. This is called the Great Commission. It is the call for workers for the Harvest. But, contrary to popular opinion, it is not necessarily a call to full time ministry – one can fulfill this  calling as whatever state in life you currently are. The Spirit of Jesus in you will then lead you to where He wants you – and it may be in the very same state where you received your calling or He may tell you to go into full time ministry. But it must be His call not yours.

Most of our religious traditions emphasize that “the Great  Commission”  is for all Christians, presuming that all are Christians have accepted their call to discipleship.  In reality, however most Christians, don’t even realize that discipleship does not  automatically ensue from our baptism. Living in discipleship means accepting being Yoked to Christ so He can live in you and through you.

You cannot freely make that decision until you are fully aware of the cost of that decision in that you are surrendering control of your life and placing it in Jesus’ hands. It is a decision to walk by the spirit and not by the flesh. It is a decision to yield to the Holy Spirit to form us into the Image of Christ and empower us for His Service. It is a decision to be empowered by the Holy Spirit with ALL the Spiritual Gifts that are needed to accomplish the task we are assigned. We cannot just pick and choose those gifts we are comfortable with or exercise those gifts wherever we want – we have to follow the leading of the Spirit of God in  all that we say or do.  Everything we say or do must be the Father’s will and not our own.

It must be stated that many of our religious traditions do make the conditions for discipleship VERY clear to those who choose to be ordained or enter into the consecrated religious Life. However, there is need to also reach out to us lay people so that it is clearly understood that  a discipleship relationship with Jesus is available to ALL Christians not just the ordained, religious or ministerial staff.

And the entry point to this “unofficial” type of discipleship for lay people is through prayer. Not just the superficial type of supplication prayer most lay people are accustomed to but a spiritually intimate, contemplative, mode of prayer such as the “Lectio Divina” mentioned in my previous posting. Without an intimate prayer life, it would be extremely difficult to discern the Fathers directives for your life and His specific will for those to whom you are ministering. You need to Hear His Voice in order to Obey!

This type of discipleship may be entered wherever you are in your life – it begins with a sincere prayer of repentance and a re-dedication of your life from that point on to the Lord!  The Lord can use you as a disciple wherever you are. He can use you a as a husband and father, He can use you as a wife and mother, He can use you as a single person and as a student still in school!

He will lead you and guide you using the circumstances of your life, because He will be your partner in the circumstances of your life or, rather, you will be His partner as He works in you and through you!  But you have to let Him In! You have to ask to be YOKED to Him!  And you have to put the Word of God into action in your life and the lives of those around you, so that you too, like Jesus can say: “The Spirit of the Lord is Upon me , because he has appointed me to proclaim the Good News ..” (Luke 4:18 )   through the life you will then live in His Name!

This how you become Jesus’ apprentice – because that is what true discipleship entails!

Here are the major principles to remember:

<>  The Word of  God

— Jesus is the WORD so if you are to Live like Jesus you have to live out the Word in your  life!

— The study and meditation on God’s Word is the Foundation on which the Holy Spirit will build…

—  It must be an integral part of your life as a disciple – HIS WORD is a lamp unto our feet a light unto our path!

— The Word is the most powerful defense and offense we have against the powers of darkness,. It is the Sword of the Spirit that you will need to put off these forces that will come against you when you make your decision.

<>  Prayer

— Prayer is essential to discipleship – but it is only part of the process

— It is through Prayer that we explicitly yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that He may conform us to the image of Christ,

— It enables s a deep spirit-to-spirit dialogue with our Teacher to enable us to understand the WORD of  God, and the Father’s Will and His purposes for us so that we can be His instrument in bringing forth the   Kingdom through our lives.

— It provides us the spiritual basis and strength we need to persevere in the faith of our calling.

— It provides us the spiritual insight and empowerment we need to put the Word full into practice.

<>  Discipleship

— Discipleship is apprenticeship – and apprenticeship involves taking action in faith.

— Apprenticeship goes beyond merely learning the principles of the Kingdom and discerning the Fathers will…it is the living out of those principles in our lives so that the Kingdom will be made manifest through us as the Spirit leads;

–Acting on principles of the Kingdom of the Kingdom is not following a lot of religious rules or projects – it is an emptying out of ourselves so that God can fill us with His Spirit and work in us and through us;

— It is NOT us doing something for God BUT letting God do something through us.

–When we thus yield ourselves to the Spirit everything we do or say will always be within  the moral code established by God  because the Spirit of Jesus in us will  NEVER do something outside the Father’s will.

— If we do not put the principles of the kingdom into practice through the Spirit that is in us, we cannot bear fruit for the Kingdom and all our effort at growing spiritually will be for naught.

— If we attempt to take action to carry out the Kingdom  principles on our own we will utterly fail – for  our walk must be in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

<>  Spiritual Sustenance and Restoration

—  In order to sustain us as we “let His Kingdom Come” we also need Our “Daily Bread” – His Body and Blood as presented to us in Holy Communion. If possible,    received on a daily basis.

— As Jesus told His Disciples: – “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day;  or my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” ( Jn. 6:53-56)

— And since we ought not partake unless we are in a repentant state (1 Cor. 11:23-27)), we also need the: graces offered in the Sacrament (ordinance) of Reconciliation.

<> The Challenge 

The Challenge, for those who sense the Lord is calling them and whose spirit has been incited by this article, is to come to the point of making a decision in faith and carrying out that decision in their lives. To that end the next article will deal with the specific items that we all face in stepping out into a discipleship relationship with Jesus, namely …

— Assessing the Cost

— Making the Decision (and  the commitment)

—  Living out our discipleship within the circumstances of our lives with humility, perseverance and faith.

In going forward only remember this… “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1Cor. 1:26-31)

Praised Be His Holy Name!!

May the Lord Bless you all and may His Spirit enable you to respond to His call!

Your brother and fellow pilgrim in Christ Jesus…. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2017])

RELATED LINKS

•  Yielding to the Kingdom Anointing

•  Living In the Kingdom NOW!

• Overcoming the World

• Releasing the Spirit

• Praying In the Spirit

• Renewal of our Minds

• Hearing God’s Voice … and Obeying It!

• The Crucified Life

•  The Cost of Discipleship

• The Sweet Yoke of Love

• Husbands Love your Wives

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

The Double Portion Anointing

The Kingdom of God: Our Inheritance

• Awakening to the Father’s Love (Part 1)

• Awakening to the Father’s Love (Part 2)

St. Theresa: Regarding Prayer

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Shall we then continue in sin that Grace may abound? (Rom. 6:15)

God forbid! (cf., Rom, 3:31; 6:2; 6:15; 7:7; KJV)

The King within us

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2Tim. 4:1-3)

Brothers and Sisters,

The signs of the times clearly indicate that we are indeed in the “Days of Noah” and the “Days of Lot” as indicated by Jesus in the Gospels (cf., Luke 17:16-28 ) and also in the “perilous times” as indicated by St. Paul to Timothy:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.  For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.  But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” (2 Tim. 3:1-9)

false_prophets_2I am posting this article because we all need to be made aware of the many false teachers and preachers in our midst who are twisting the Word of God to peddle their “gospels” of permissiveness, self-indulgenece, and prosperity as being  “enlightened” forms of understanding scripture.

Recognizing False “Gospels” Regarding Grace”

Amongst the many false deceptive messages being delivered today is that of a libertine form of “Grace” (a licentious grace) that teaches that, because of Christ’s atoning work on the Cross we are no longer under “law” and can live pretty much as we wish and be assured of our salvation. Since all of our sins have been paid for and since we have all been reconclled with God through Christ, the moral law, declared by God for all humanity is of no more consequence to us who consider ourselves to be “under Grace”.

This devious, anti-nomian concept (lawlessness) is attractive to many in today’s world because it is in line with the ego-centric, self-centered, free-wheeling spirit of the current generation, who abhors any constraint on their ability to live as they please and who are in the process of being conformed to the “world”.  It comes from a religious spirit that wants to put a fig leaf over their moral nakedness so that they may continue dabbling in the world system with it’s enticements, lusts, greed, and carnal excesses, without exacting any feelings of guilt. The intent of what is being taught is, of course, to attract uninstructed youth to fall into their snare by attempting to appease their consciences using selectively misinterpreted scriptures, out of context, telling them that “God’s Grace” has freed them to do whatever pleases them without losing their salvation – while all the while they are being used to satisfy the pride and greed of the false teachers, whose own spiritual lives are in tatters.

In the attempt to justify themselves the proponents of this deviation from the true purpose of Grace in our lives, teach that since God has reconciled us to himself in Christ it would be an act of unbelief to “repent” of our sins, since our sins have already been forgiven at the cross. In a previous post, “Be Reconciled to God” I provided a scriptural argument against this  erroneous position. In that article I point out that it is the apostle Paul, himself, who, after having proclaimed that God has “reconciled us to Himself”, is, in this same letter, he then exhorts the Colossian beleivers to “be reconciled to God” (Col.1: 21-23). Clearly indicating to us, that we, whom God has reconciled, also need to respond to His infinite act of Reconciling Love by an act of faith that activates in our renewed spirit the reconciliation He offers.  This act being our repentance.

Now that act of faith, is in effect, an act or word on our part, that acknowledges our godly sorrow, our need for reconciliation, and our willingness to receive God’s forgiveness – an act that, directly or indirectly, expresses repentance, on our part. Being keenly aware, that this act of faith is incited by God’s Grace and Love, as an act of gratitude and is NOT deemed by us as somehow earning a grace or favor that was freely provided to all humanity while we were yet sinners more than two millenia past.

Jesus:  Regarding the Gospel of Repentance

After His resurrection. Jesus gathered his disciples at an unscheduled prayer beakfast and tried to explain to them that what had happened in Jerusalem during His Passion was all contained in the scriptures, saying to them …

“…This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:44-48)

Quickly bring  a robe and put it on him ...In the parable of the prodigal son (cf.,Luke 15:11-32), Jesus, portrays very clearly how  the Grace of Reconciliation is received through a sincere act of repentance. Namely, when the son who has left the father’s house to “do his own thing” in a far-off land finds himself in a famine with nothing to eat and feeding pigs instead of himself, he, because of his circumstances, “comes to his senses” and says to himself “I will return to my father’s house”. And the father, who, holding nothing against him, has been lovingly waiting for his son, such that when sees him approaching he runs to him and embraces him, telling his servants to provide the son with a family robe and sandals while he places the ring of family authority on his finger.

In this parable,Jesus paints  an allegorical picture about how grace and repentance relate to one another! It is provided to us through scripture for our instruction to let us know how we are loved by the Father, without condemnation, and how we, in returning to Him, should respond to the unmerited Grace he showers upon us by accepting his embrace and the symbols of His love for us: the Robe, the sandals and the ring he places upon us,as unworthy as we are. But the story also tells us that when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, and, although sensitive of our own unworthiness, we need to freely turn to the Lord without fear of condemnation, because we know in our hearts that He loves us and  will accept us as we are. (see also my article on “The Prodigals Amongst Us”)

Branches Bearing FruitIn another allegory, Jesus tells us that our relationship (fellowship) with Him should be like the branches to the Vine, that is,   in our attachment to Jesus. And, just like the branches, if we are to function and bring forth fruit, we must remain attached to the Vine. Otherwise, if we become detached (lose our  fellowship with Him) we risk being like dried up branches that must be cut off and burned (John 15:1-8). Our fellowship with Jesus is, of course, is the outcome or the purpose for the Grace of Reconciliation and implies  that this Grace, that comes through the Vine, must continuously  flow in our lives in order for us to remain attached to the Vine and  bear fruit for the Kingdom and the Glory of the Father. (see also my article on “Bearing Fruit Through Prayer”)

Through Jesus parables like these and through the teaching of the apostles in scripture, the case can be clearly established that this Grace of Reconciliation through Repentance is freely provided to us believers, not only to enter into fellowship with the Divine, but also in order to continue in and maintain that fellowship throughout our lives so that we may bear fruit!

The Apostle John; Regarding Fellowship, Sin, and Confession

John the Evangelist affirms this thesis when he says in His first epistle…

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1John 1:6-10)

And, in order to ease our discomfort, when we do sin, he says…

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.  (1John 2:1-6)

The Apostle Paul: Regarding Putting on the New Self after our Justification

The apostle Paul also make some clear statements regarding how to carry out our responsibility to “walk as Jesus walked’, in our loving response to the Grace of Reconciliation and Fellowship which we freely receive at our justification. Now, it must be clearly  understood, that this ability to maintain fellowship also emanates from the Grace of Reconciliation and reflects the work of the Holy Spiirt in us in conforming us to the Image of Christ. (Rom. 8:29)

From all of this, It is should be clear to us that when we sin by living by the flesh rather than the Spirit we begin to break out of our fellowship relationship with the Divine and the Holy Spirit, who is in us, works in us to help us recognize our failings, so that through the on going Grace of Reconciliation, we may be brought back into full fellowship with the Divine.

I challenge you to take seriously, these statements from the apostle Paul, who is sometimes misunderstood or misquoted on the subject of being “under Grace and not under law”…

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

CrossBy no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Rom. 6:1-2)

Here also for your discernment, is  his exhortation to the Ephesians (Eph. 4:17-32) regarding the sin problem amongst (apparently) justified believers, and what Paul proposes they do …

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

To this, Paul, adds an important statement indicating that the intent of living a holy life after justifications is not to claim any gain on our part for His Magnificent and free provision of Grace, but to lovingly yield ourselves to Him in acknowledgment  and thanksgiving for the sacrifice of His Son for our salvation.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God”

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph 5:1-14)

What then is to be our response?

In conclusion brethren, in light of what I have just presented and in light of the darkness that is coming over this world, I think we all need to pray and meditate on these scriptures and, in discerning God’s will, we should ask ourselves:

<>”Have I arisen with Christ?” or am I just sliding along in life with one foot in the “world’ and the other foot in “church”?

<>”Have I truly awakened to the light of Christ and the Resurrection Life He brings us, or am I still stumbling along in the spiritual darkness of the world and its enticements?

<>Let us then awake and rise up, understanding that the full intent Grace that God provides is not merely  to “justify” us so that we can go to heaven, but to also give us the opportunity to yield ourselves fully to the Holy Spirit so that He may initiate the process of conforming our lives to the image of our master, Jesus. So that, being under His anointing for service, we may be filled with His Light and become envoys of His Light to this fallen world in which we live, for the Glory of His Name and for His Kingdom!

May God, our Father who loves us, and His Son who saved us, be praised for ever and ever. Amen!

Your Brother In Christ and Fellow Pilgrim … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2017])

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Monstrance

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’ ”. (1 peter 1: 13-16)

“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.”  ( Romans 8:28-29)

My dear fellow Pilgrims,

Having trouble understanding and responding to our call to be Holy as He is Holy?

There are many challenges we lay Christians face if we want to grow spiritually
in our walk with Jesus. The first and foremost of these being, living out  the Holiness  to which we have been called. The only way given us is by yielding ourselves in obedience to the Holy Spirit and rendering Him our full cooperation so that “the Grace that is brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ” may be manifested in our lives.

Many of us, for instance, do not even understand what the “at revelation of Jesus Christ” refers to since most of us have never experienced such an occurrence. And if we do not comprehend this point how can we proceed to respond to our call to holiness?

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Do not be anxious ….

Let us begin by attempting to understand the term “at the revelation of Jesus Christ” by recounting the revelation that Peter experienced in His walk with Christ, when Jesus asked His disciples, including Peter, “ … who do men say that I am?”

“… they replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  “But what about you? Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?”

… Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

… And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon  , because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  (Matt. 16:14-17)

Note that Jesus’ asked first asked them what the people in their religious culture thought about who He was.  He did this because, all of us, even today, initially base our assessment of Jesus on human understanding and tradition about who Jesus is, and NOT on what the Spirit of God is revealing personally to us. That is why, by asking the first question, Jesus was opening  their spirits to answer the next question: “… but who do YOU say that I am”?

In order to bring us to the same point, He asks us the same question. He wants us to meditate on His Word and go into our inner selves and assess the nature of who WE really think Jesus is? He wants us to distinguish beyond what the world or our culture thinks and what the Father in the Spirit is revealing to us, through His Word, about the divinity of His Son. And not only that, He wants us to testify in faith to the revelation about Jesus we find He has placed in us.

Yes! That is why when Peter proclaimed  that Jesus was “the Anointed one of God”, that Jesus told Him that the only way he could honestly make this statement was if it had been divinely revealed to him by the Father. And yes, it is the Father’s desire for us also — to reveal the person of His Son to us so that we may not only know about Him but KNOW Him personally was Our Lord and Savior and manifest our faith by verbally testifying to His Divinity.

Remember, also, what happened when the Samaritan woman at the well testified to her village that she had encountered the Messiah (cf., John 4:4-42). They believed her witness and believed in Jesus, but not from their own personal experience, but by her testimony. That is where most of us laity are with regards to “knowing” Jesus – indirect believers based on the witness of true believers who have received the grace of His revelation.

Nonetheless, second-hand faith is very important as it initiates our entry into the Kingdom. But its importance rests on what we do with this faith we with which we initially believe..

Notice that the Samaritan believers took that initial faith and sought Jesus for themselves. So that when they found Him they told the woman …“It is no longer because of your words that we believe,  for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4-42)

or, in our modern idiom the villagers response to the Samaritan Woman might be something like this …

“… now that we have encountered Him personally, we believe in our hearts not just because of your testimony but, mainly,  because we have heard His Word directed to each of us personally and directly so that now I KNOW spiritually that Jesus is not only the Savior of the world but that He is MY savior and MY Lord!”

That is what the Father desires for each of us – that we take the initial faith in the Good News that has been proclaimed to us in the Church and seek out Jesus personally so that we meet our Shepherd and experience Him and His  Word directly revealed in our spirits to the Glory of His Name. Praised be His Holy Name!

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The Light Shone in the Darkness

Understanding this, we are then better able to understand that our Holiness comes from the transformation that comes from “knowing” Jesus personally and our yielding completely to Him and His Lordship. And, doing so thus permits the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us that we  may be conformed to His Image, the image of His Holiness (Rom. 8:28-29)

And, of course, this transformation is based from our union with the Spirit of Christ that is in us from our conversion and Baptism. “Christ in us the Hope of Glory!”

But knowing this, you might now ask, how then do we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that He might work in us to bring us to this Holiness in Him?

The answer is simple …

<> First, seek to know the Spirit of Jesus that is in you – “Christ in us, the Hope of Glory”! (Colossians 1:26-28)

…’Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD… (Jeremiah 29:12-14)

‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.’  (Matt. 7:7)

“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37)

“I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

“Those I love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore be earnest and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me.To the one who is victorious, I will grant the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne…”  (Revelation 3:19-21)

<> Then, you set yourself apart exclusively for the Father’s Work – that is, consecrate yourself, (offer yourself as a living Sacrifice) to the Father.

“I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

<> Finally, live out your life placing al your faith and trust in Him, and His Holiness will be made manifest in your lives for His Glory!

“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

“Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.” (Col. 3:1-10)

<> And do not be afraid that your load is too heavy, for He Himself will be your Help.

OXEN-YOKE

Sweet Yoke of Love

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)

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painting-picture-image-jesus-christ-love copyI urge you brothers and sisters, that, especially, this Lenten season, you turn your heart to Jesus and seek a personal communion with Him asking to grow deeper in your relationship with Him. Open the door to your hearts and let Him sup with you – then yield yourself fully to the Grace that flows from Him, the Living Water that will bring you a holy, renewed, and empowered Life In  Him! Praised be His Holy Name!

May the Lord Bless You in all that you dedicate to do In His Name!

Your Brother  and Fellow Pilgrim In Christ … Bartimaeus

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(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2017])

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Repent and Believe

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new. But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation. We are therefore ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us. We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:17-21)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

This Ash Wednesday as the priest placed ashes on my forehead and said to me, “repent and believe”, I felt the Lord leading me to share with you some of the thoughts the Holy Spirit has been dealing with me on exactly those themes.

As a son of the Catholic Church I am blessed to be part of a community for which coming to “repentance” is a blessing which has permitted me not only enter and continue my spiritual growth within the community but, because of my ability to express my “repentance” through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, has also opened the doors to a deeper intimacy with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in enabling me to experience a continuing Heavenly Presence in my spirit through my frequent participation in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

I have been saddened, however, because in my ecumenical apostolate I interact with some of my brothers and sisters who are not catholic and with whom the term “repent” has a somewhat negative sensitivity. Now, I love and respect these brothers and sisters very much because I know they are “in Christ” through conversion and Baptism and are very immersed in putting the Word of God to action in their lives. However, I notice that a certain few of these brethren have a skewed understanding of just what “repentance” entails they find it difficult to let the Grace of Repentance do its full work in their spiritual lives and thus limits them in proclaiming the “Good News” of Repentance and Forgiveness to others.

From their point view, repentance is a one-time act that occurs at conversion when one responds in faith to the proclamation of the crucified Jesus, the son of the Living God as the atoning sacrifice for our sins and those of all mankind. In their manner of thinking we have all been reconciled by Christ’s atoning work on the cross, so once we are in Christ why do we need to concern ourselves further with “reconciliation” if God has already reconciled the world to Himself?

One of the things that they overlook is that even though the Father has reconciled the world to Himself, the fullness of that reconciliation cannot be fulfilled until the other party accepts that offer of reconciliation through repantance, by saying, “I’m sorry, I accept your forgiveness”. That is what our repentance accomplishes.

LeadsYoutoRepentance1These brothers and sisters in Christ that I interact with, apparently do not comprehend that true repentance is not a “work” of man, it is, in reality, a work of grace, in that it is the Holy Spirit at work in us to bring us to the awareness of our break in fellowship with God and the need to ask forgiveness for our transgressions. It is NOT something we do to merit the Father’s forgiveness, rather it is an act of faith to access the eternal forgiveness for sin that was paid for by Jesus’ Death on the Cross. Our repentance can be likened to the good thief who was crucified at Jesus’ side who in his act of repentance said to Jesus, “…. remember me when you come into your kingdom” or the like the woman with a flow of blood who, when she stretched out her hand to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, He said to her… “your faith has saved you”.

“True repentance” is merely the grace of our Baptism continuing its work in our lives so that each day we may reach out and access the grace of salvation, the atonement for our sins that Jesus died for, and whose forgiveness is in the Father’s storehouse of Grace in the eternal realm. Repentance is an act of faith to access the forgiveness we need at the moment we become aware that we need forgiveness.

In other words, repentance is merely our acknowledgement that we need God in our lives and that the life we are living at the moment is separating us from Him. Repentance is any word or action we take to turn to God for help in accessing His forgiveness and returning to Him. It is like the decision taken by the “prodigal son” when he became aware of his dire situation in a pig sty, who said to himself, “I don’t belong here, I will return to my father’s house even if I have to be a servant to my father”.

Although we have all been reconciled to the Father through the sacrifice of His Son and His Resurrection, we can only receive that grace of reconciliation through Faith – and repentance is the expression of faith that accesses the Father’s forgiveness. It is the act that Paul was referring to when he exhorted the Corinthian community to “be reconciled with God”. In that same letter He had already told them that the Father had “reconciled the world to Himself” through the sacrifice of His Son and in his letter to the Romans He also said that “… there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ”, so, what could he have meant by exhorting them to “be reconciled”, unless he was exhorting them to bring their repentance up to date by repenting for your sins up to “today”?

In further explanation regarding repentance, listen to what Paul continues to say to the Corinthians:

“…we entreat also that you not receive the grace of God in vain, for he says, ‘at an acceptable time I listened to you, In a day of salvation I helped you’. Behold, now is the acceptable time. Behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6: 1-2)

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“… now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.…” (2Cor.7:9-11)

Yes, “Today is the Day of Salvation” for all of us, because repentance, in order to be sincere, is necessarily tied to each of our “todays”. This is so because we humans cannot sincerely repent of our future sins, only our past and present sins can be truly repented at any moment in time. For our repentance, in order to be truly sincere in godly sorrow, it can only be valid in each of our “todays”.

That is why, regarding the Great Commission”, Jesus told his disciples to preach the Good News of Repentance for the Forgiveness of Sins to the whole world …

…saying to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-48)

And Peter, himself, in fulfilling the command of the Lord, told the crowd at Pentecost to “repent and believe” so that they, themselves, could then be empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Kingdom of God.

This Jesus God raised up, to which we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted by the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this, which you now see and hear. For David didn’t ascend into the heavens, but he says himself, “The Lord said to my Lord Sit by my right hand, Until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

“Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.

 “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ 8Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized’, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and [then] you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call tohimself.” (Acts 2:32-39)

Cheap Grace or Costly Grace?

Dieterich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and theologian in Germany who died for his faith under Hitler’s Nazi rule, contrasted “cheap grace” and “costly grace”.

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves… the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance… grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate… Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

God invites each of us as his friends to his heavenly banquet that we may celebrate with him and share in his joy. Are you ready to feast at the Lord’s banquet table?

“Lord Jesus, may I always know the joy of living in your presence and grow in the hope of seeing you face to face in your everlasting kingdom.”

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If this brief proclamation has stirred you awareness, let us, then, use this time of Lent as a time of quiet mediation on the Word of God, asking the Holy Spirit make us aware of the places in our lives where we have to yield to Him in repentance so that we may be formed as useful instrument for His purposes and Glory.

Praised Be His Holy Name!

 Your Brother and fellow servant in Christ … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2015])

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Be Reconciled with God !

“… God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. [How] Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, [how]much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Rom. 5:8-11)

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Sometimes, due to our superficial and simplistic reading of Scripture, we not only miss the spiritual depth and scope of what is being communicated, but sometimes misunderstand the basic meaning of the concepts being presented. For instance in the concept regarding “reconciliation” being presented by the Apostle Paul in the initiating citation from his epistle to the Romans, Paul is telling us that through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, the Father accomplished that which, under human wisdom, was deemed an impossibility, the reconciliation of the relationship between God and humankind. Upon mankind’s fall from Grace, our intimate relationship with God had been ruptured by the sin of pride, rebellion and disobedience against God – a sin that in God’s words could only be atoned for by the death of the sinner …

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Gen. 2:15-17)

“Thus says Lord, … the soul that commits sin shall die” (Ezek. 18:4)

Our Need for Reconciliation with God

There is little doubt, brethren, that each of us, as children of Adam, have partaken of this forbidden fruit and are children of this rebellion since the carnal brokenness of our fleshly lives gives evidence to our disobedience and separation from God. For as St. Paul also concludes: “… all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

Thus, if in order to satisfy God’s Justice, you paid with your life, what good would that be to you or to God since, without life, you could no longer derive the benefit of reconciliation from the settlement of your debt to God? Thus, the mere fact that you paid your debt with your life certainly would not result in reconciliation would it? You have to be alive to experience true and complete reconciliation.

The Father’s Gift of Reconciliation in Christ

So in a magnificent display of God’s wisdom, mercy, and Love for those whom He created, He determined from eternity that the only way that true reconciliation, that included the propitiation for the sin of mankind, could be accomplished was to send His Son, the Image of Himself, to take on our sins through His sacrificial death on the Cross and to be resurrected to Life so that those who believe in Him might not only be redeemed from their sins but also be brought to new life in His Anointed and so enjoy the restoration of fellowship with the Father as His adopted children! Now that is a true and complete Reconciliation!. This is the fullness of the Forgiveness, Restoration, and Reconciliation that we who believe have in Christ Jesus! Praised be His Name Forever!

In the Old Covenant, God chose not to reveal this mystery to Israel, the mystery of how He could forgive sin and not hold it against them, even though this apparently went against the principle of His eternal Justice. Instead, through His Word given to Moses, He instituted, a set of sacrificial rituals for sin that symbolized the Mercy and Love that would be later revealed in His Son, the Messiah (His anointed One) and through which His Justice would be eternally satisfied.

With regard to Jesus’ sacrificial offering of Himself, the writer of Hebrews, directing his teaching to the a Jewish-Christian community, states:

“For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

I have been crucified with Christ…

And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:13-22)

Thus, my brothers and sisters, in and through the shed blood of Christ Jesus, we have come under a New Covenant, where we, who believe and have been brought into covenant with the Father, are called to be messengers or envoys of the Good News of this Reconciliation to the whole world, so that all may comprehend the universality of His Love and His Mercy for those that believe!

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:17-21)

Appropriating the Reconciliation

Now, here is an apparent conundrum: the Apostle Paul clearly states that, “… we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son”, and “… not counting their trespasses against them”, yet, Paul continues by entreating, on behalf of Christ, that all who hear these “Good News” to ” … be reconciled to God”, obviously seeking a response from them in the present. The questions is: how is it that, if God, in the past tense, “…. having reconciled the world to Himself”, is now, through Paul’s preaching, appealing to all who hear to take some kind of action to complete what has already been accomplished? If reconciliation has already been achieved eternally through Christ’s death and resurrection, what is it that is left for the hearer’s to do to bring that Reconciliation into manifestation in the NOW of their lives?

Obviously, if St. Paul is entreating those who are the object of His preaching, to “be reconciled to God”, it must be that, what he is requiring of his hearers is an act of faith to receive that reconciliation. Like all spiritual blessings and graces, the reconciliation being preached, cannot be appropriated except through faith – a faith that is validated by an act of our will. So what Paul is really asking, is for his audience to “Believe and Repent” in order to receive the Promised Graces of Reconciliation.

This means that even though we all have been reconciled to God in eternity, an act of faith is required by us to appropriate this Grace in the present – in the NOW of our lives. The Grace that we reach out to with our faith is the Reconciliation that Christ has won for us and that is already available to us in the heavenlies, but which may only be appropriated by us through an act of faith – that act of faith being our sincere repentance in faith!

Just remember, repentance is NOT a “work”, it is an act of faith through which God’s Grace proceeds.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph.2:8-9)

Repentance has to be by Faith and NOT by works, because it is only by Faith that we can please God. And, also, from the context of what Paul is teaching – repentance is a grace that turns our hearts towards God in sorrowful acknowledgment of our sins and in a fully yielded acceptance of the Gift of Forgiveness and Reconciliation that is being offered.

Our need for Ongoing Repentance

Continuing in this train of thought, it then becomes clear to us that, although at our conversion and Baptism we repented of all of our sins to the moment of receiving the sacrament, there will be occasions in our future lives where, due to the weakness of human flesh, we will fall again into sin, and when we do what recourse do we have to maintain ourselves in reconciliation (or Fellowship) with the Father? Since we can only repent of the sins we are aware of, do we have to be baptized again every time we accumulate new sins?

No, of course not! The reason being, that the Lord also provided for us the continuing means whereby, those of us who have become part of the Body Of Christ through Baptism may maintain or fellowship with the Father. The Fountain of Grace that the father provides is not limited by our time-bound constraints on repentance. The Living water He provides is like a never-ending fountain available to us throughout our lives not only here but through eternity. All we have to do is to reach out to this Grace of Graces through our continuing repentance in Faith!

For those of us in the Catholic tradition we believe that the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist are outlets of His continuing and out-flowing Life-giving Grace exactly because they provide us, the faithful, with the sacramental means to express our repentance in faith and receive spiritual restoration continually though out our lifetimes.

Remember when Jesus washed His Disciples feet before the last supper …

“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, …..” (John 13:6-10)

Like the disciples we, as His Children, have been washed clean in the eternal cleansing of Baptism but, because we are temporal creatures, we are being continually exposed to the world and it sinfulness. Thus, we also need to have our feet (our souls) washed at regular periods if we want to continue to have part with Jesus. That washing of the feet is what the Sacrament of Reconciliation provides.

Remember also what John the Apostle said about our need to confess our sins,

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:6-10)

In Jesus’ metaphor that He is the Vine, He reinforces the need for us to maintain a continuous fellowship with Him:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (John 1:6-10)

If we are to continue to abide in the vine and bear fruit we must undergo a continuous pruning, and that is why our continuous self-assessment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and His Word (with repentance, as necessary) is extremely important if we are to continue to grow spiritually and not become a “dry branch”.

Maintaining Our Fellowship with God

Again, we find in the Word that God does not ask anything from us for which He does not provide the appropriate Grace. When Jesus ask for us to abide in Him, He also tells us the Grace that is provided to this purpose, namely, the Sacrament of the Eucharist, otherwise called “Holy Communion” or “Holy Fellowship”. For He says to them: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty,,, I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:35, 48-51)

Unless you eat of my flesh and drink my blood…

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:52-58)

Quickly bring a robe and put it on him …

Beloved, what more can be said about the Father’s generous and unconditional Reconciliation. Not only does He accept us, and forgive all our trespasses and receives us to new life as His adopted children, but, also, through the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, continuously restores us to Fellowship with Him as a continuation of our inheritance in Christ, just as the prodigal son’s father received and restored His returning runaway son (Luke 15: 22 – 24) and restored Him to his place in the estate by placing his robe of righteousness on his body and his ring of authority on his finger.

In conclusion, brothers and sisters, I pray, that in my simple way, I have clarified the importance of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist as the institutionalized means by which the church attends to the needs of us, the faithful, to assist us in the restoration and maintenance of Our Reconciliation and Fellowship with Him in Christ Jesus, His Son and to strengthen us to hold fast unto Him as we continue on the way of discipleship to Him.

To Him be all Glory and Honor Forever! Amen and Amen!

As we continue in our walk with Him I leave you with the following scriptures to encourage and strengthen you continue in the Way in Him, Jesus, The Son of the Father and Our Savior and Lord!

Baruch Ha Shem, Blessed Be His Name Forever!

St. John:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1John 2:1-6)

St. Paul:

“Now, brothers[and sisters], I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (1 Cor. 15: 1-2)

“… Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.
All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling
must be removed from you, along with all malice.
And be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.
So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. (Eph 4:30-5:2)

Moses:

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Num. 6:24-26)

Jesus:

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:25-27)

Be Courageous and Strong in the Lord, for the testing of all Christians is at hand …

Your Fellow Disciple and Pilgrim in Christ Jesus…. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2012])

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