Category Archives: Selected Sunday Scriptures

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #125

Today’s post will feature three Gospel readings. The first is the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

(Luke 18:9-14)

The second is that of the Prodigal Son:

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons; 12 and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. 15 So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; 23 and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; 24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry.

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

(Luke 15:11-32)

The third comes from Jesus’s denouncing of the Pharisees:

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. 26 You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

(Matthew 23:25-28)

All three passages deal with those who appear clean, that is, righteous, on the outside. The Pharisees in the first and third passage, and the older brother in the second. On the outside they are obedient- they do what the law requires of them. But inside, their hearts are just as full of sin as those they look down on them, whether they be tax collectors or wayward brothers. In all three situations you have as the principal sin that of pride. Pride, that most indispensable of sins. That which comes before the fall.

With the older brother we see more, of course. Envy and Avarice have also blinded him to the fact that his brother has returned. He has let his love of material things get in the way of his love for his brother. And if he cannot love his brother, whom he has seen, how can he hope to love God, whom he has not seen?

As we move along our spiritual journey, we need to watch out for pride and the other sins we keep inside. As we get better and better and keeping the outside of the cup clean, it becomes all the more imperative that we keep the inside clean too. It is good to appreciate and acknowledge our accomplishments. But at the same time we cannot let them give us a false sense of being “better” or more worthy than those around us. All have fallen short- all of us have missed the mark. And ll of us are equally dependent on the mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. At the end of the day, we will all be throwing ourselves at the feet of our Lord and begging him to show mercy. Let that reminder keep us on our toes, and prayerful in our hearts.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #124

Two passages for today’s post. The first is a section of St. Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians, which I propose to contain many valuable lessons:

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living. 13 Brethren, do not be weary in well-doing.

14 If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not look on him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

(2 Thessalonians 3:6-15)

Here is a quick list I have made of the important lessons which St. Paul teaches here:

  • Avoid those “Christians” who are idle, that is, given over to sloth.
  • Avoid those professed Christians who are living in a way which goes against Apostolic tradition.
  • St. Paul and his companions may have worked for their upkeep, but they had the right to expect their fellow brethren in Christ to support them.
  • Those who refuse to work should not eat- that is, be given food by the community.
  • Christians should not grow weary, presumably in the soul, of hard work.
  • Have nothing to do with fellow Christians who disobey the teaching of the Apostles. This will shame them and hopefully convince them to turn aside from their sin.
  • Those who have fallen away are not our enemies, and shouldn’t be treated as such. Instead they are wayward brothers who should be warned about the perils of sin out of love.

As for this next passage, it was motivated by Dalrock’s long running series of weak men- many of whom seem to be screwing feminism up. This passage indeed features a weak man- Herod:

14 King Herod heard of it; for Jesus’ name had become known. Some[c] said, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Eli′jah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Hero′di-as, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married her. 18 For John said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Hero′di-as had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Hero′di-as’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out, and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

(Mark 6:14-29)

Is it just me, or does this passage make Herod seem, well, kinda pathetic? He fears John, and yet it is only when a woman effectively blackmails him that he finally puts the prophet to death. Not to mention the fact that a pretty girl dancing (plus presumably a fair amount of drink) would compel the man to make that rash of a vow. And to make it even worse, Herod knew John was righteous and still was so full of pride as to keep on with his (initially) half a—d measures.

 

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #123

A year has come and gone. In many respects 2016 did not go as I had hoped. But it is past now, and nothing can be done about it. Instead I turn towards the future, and hope that it fares better. When times seem dark it is important to remember that God is always with us, and that he can turn any situation around. King David understood this quite well:

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,
    and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you have healed me.
O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
    restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
    and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment;
    his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

As for me, I said in my prosperity,
    “I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O Lord,
    you had established me as a strong mountain;
you hid your face;
    I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I cried,
    and to the Lord I made supplication:
“What profit is there in my death,
    if I go down to the Pit?
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!
    O Lord, be my helper!”

11 You have turned my mourning into dancing;
    you have taken off my sackcloth
    and clothed me with joy,
12 so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

(Psalm 30)

To me this Psalm has always seemed appropriate for New Years. It acknowledges the darkness and trials at the past, yet also points towards the light of hope in the future. I invite my readers to submit their own quotes from Scripture that they believe appropriate for this New Year, and to offer their thoughts on why they think so.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #121

We are now on the second week of Advent. With that in mind, I’ve chosen some passages linked to that theme. I begin with the opening of Matthew’s gospel:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

(Matthew 1:1)

And by opening, I mean that. Just the first verse. But a huge amount is contained in that single verse. Let us unpack it.

First, we have the name of our savior: Jesus Christ. That is how His name is translated in the Greek. If we were to say His hebrew name, it would be Joshua  the Messiah. Now, that is just His Hebrew name. That doesn’t actually translate what His name actually means.

Joshua is a familiar name to those fluent in the Old Testament. He was the Israelite who took over after Moses, and actually led the People of God into the Promised Land. A translation of Joshua into English would be “God Saves.”

Messiah is another important and old Hebrew word. It means “anointed.” To anoint someone was to mark them with oil as special, as set apart. In the Old Testament we see two different figures who were anointed, the King and the Priest. Some examples of this from scripture:

10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and fetch him; for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

(1 Samuel 10-13)

12 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tent of meeting, and shall wash them with water, 13 and put upon Aaron the holy garments, and you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest. 14 You shall bring his sons also and put coats on them, 15 and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests: and their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.”

(Exodus 40:12-15)

I mention both of these because this separation was not how it was supposed to be. Originally the Patriarch, the head of the family of the People Israel, was both King and Priest. Both roles belonged to him as father. However, with the Exodus the roles are split- the kingship is retained by Judah, but the priesthood went to Aaron’s line, of the House of Levi. In Jesus we see them returned to their proper place together, hand in hand. Just as it was before in his ancestor, Melchizedek.

Then Matthew mentions that He is “the son of David.” This is important because it is a fulfillment of a promise by God to David:

12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men; 15 but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.’”

(2 Samuel 7:12-16)

It is important to remember that as the first Gospel Matthew was writing to a primarily Jewish audience. By opening with this statement that Jesus was the Son of David, he is informing the reader that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise I just quoted above. Jesus is the Son that was promised to David, the Son whose throne would be established forever.

Then we have the mention that Jesus was the Son of Abraham. Here again Matthew was informing the reader that yet another promise was being fulfilled. This was a promise of God to Abraham:

15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”

(Genesis 22:15-18)

Jesus was the blessing to all the nations that was promised. And the gates of the enemies were the gates of the Underworld, of Sheol, which Jesus smashed after his Crucifixion. And by possessing them, he freed from the pit those righteous dead which had awaited the Lord’s Day.

Matthew is telling his Jewish readers all of that, and in a single sentence. For those who don’t really know the Old Testament, it seems like a mere prologue. But for those who truly know it, Matthew was actually giving away the whole book there- this book is about The Anointed of God, King and Priest in the order of Melchizedek, God Saves, who established a kingdom and throne forever and thereby blessed all nations and peoples by smashing the gates of Death.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #120

Today marks the beginning of the Advent season. In light of that I have been reading over scripture which foretells the coming of the Messiah. I start with the word of the Lord through Nathan the prophet:

Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men; 15 but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.’” 17 In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

(2 Samuel 7:8-17)

There are several things of note in this passage. The first deals with the promise that the people of Israel will not be disturbed. We of course know that much of Israel was later disturbed- whether carried off into Assyria or Babylon many were displaced. The whole region was in fact never truly settled afterwards. There was perhaps a small period during the Maccabean revolt, but that is it.  In fact it is unsettled even to this day.

All of which leads me to two possibilities: that time has not yet come, or that the “place” mentioned here for the people Israel is not the area of land we know as “Israel.” The first would perhaps be the traditional Jewish interpretation. Certainly it would seem to have been the understanding of the Jews during the time of Jesus. However, I think, based especially on what Jesus tells us in the New Testament, that God here was speaking of the age to come. The age when we would see a new heaven and new earth. This the prophet Isaiah speaks centuries later:

17 “For behold, I create new heavens
    and a new earth;
and the former things shall not be remembered
    or come into mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice for ever
    in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing,
    and her people a joy.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
    and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
    and the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
    an infant that lives but a few days,
    or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the child shall die a hundred years old,
    and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
    they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
    they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
    and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain,
    or bear children for calamity;[c]
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,
    and their children with them.
24 Before they call I will answer,
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
    the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
    and dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
    in all my holy mountain,
                says the Lord.”

(Isaiah 65:17-25)

Such a time has not yet come.  It will not come until the end of the age, the Day of Judgement. Isaiah spoke of it, and John the Evangelist was granted a vision of it towards the end of his life:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a great voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water without price from the fountain of the water of life. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

(Revelations 21:1-8)

Notice the symmetry there? To both David and John we have reference to a son of God. For that son will inherit, and will be a conqueror, like his father David. Yet he will also be the son of God, and call God (and not simply David) his father. The promise to David is still in awaiting final fulfillment. It is for this day that we, all of us, await. This, ultimately, is the purpose of the Advent season- to prepare us for the coming of the Lord.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures-#119

I want to begin today’s post with these words by St. Paul:

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 (But if some one says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then out of consideration for the man who informed you, and for conscience’ sake— 29 I mean his conscience, not yours—do not eat it.) For why should my liberty be determined by another man’s scruples? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please all men in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

(1 Cor 10:23-31)

These words seem especially topical as of late. Just because I can do something, or say something, doesn’t mean I necessarily should. Beforehand I need to examine whether or not my actions serve to glorify God.

A similar statement from St. Paul can also be found in his Letter to the Romans:

13 Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean. 15 If your brother is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what is good to you be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; 18 he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for any one to make others fall by what he eats; 21 it is right not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God; happy is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves. 23 But he who has doubts is condemned, if he eats, because he does not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

(Romans 14:13-23)

Here we can see that what glorifies God is that which builds up our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith. We all stumble, we all fall. That is our nature. But all the same we shouldn’t encourage it in others, on the contrary we should do what we can to help them avoid those falls. Sadly, all of this is often easier said than done.

What I think is required is a conscious effort to always be aware of what we are doing, and to always ask what the consequences of our actions will/might be. We can’t simply auto-pilot through life. Nor can we take short-cuts or “the easy way out” by doing things in a hurry- so we can claim we didn’t have time to reflect. I suspect we always are given enough time by God to make the right decision. The real issues is whether we have the desire to do the right thing. Of course, that sort of is the crux of our faith journey, isn’t it?

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #118

A conversation with some friends got me thinking about the topic of salvation. More specifically, the false doctrine of Once Saved, Always Saved. Before chiming in it is always good to hit the books. Let us begin with the Letter to the Hebrews:

26 For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. 28 A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

(Hebrews 10:26-31)

Next we move to Philippians:

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature be thus minded; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

(Philippians 3:12-16)

Finally we end with St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; 27 but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

(1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

What we can see here is that there is no scriptural support for OSAS. We are not “saved” at some point while we are alive. Salvation is not a living state. Rather, salvation is the goal, the prize at the end of the race. Even Saint Paul was worried that he might lose out, after having accomplished so much! Clearly he didn’t believe that he was “saved.” Rather, he imagined himself a runner in a race where the stakes were as high as they could be. We too should be just as concerned as he was.

Buy hey, don’t take my word for it. Rely on Jesus instead:

31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(Matthew 25:31-46)

Notice how there is no mention of being “saved” here? Nor is there any mention of “professing me (Jesus) in your heart” or anything else like that.

So what is involved then? Well, lets look to the Gospel of John:

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

(John 3:1-6, 16-18)

From this and other passages we can figure out how we can win the race. There are a number of steps necessary to win this race. Here is a crude outline I created which tries to lay them out:

  1. Believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and our Lord and Savior (the most essential step)
  2. Be baptized (born of water)
  3. Be chrismated -the laying of hands (born of Spirit)

Of course, these just get us on the path. We can swerve from it if we are not careful. That is where repentance and confession come in. And of course Communion/Eucharist helps fortify our spirit so we can keep on the path as well. Taken together, we can see how it is sort of a two stage process. The first stage is to get on the path, and the second stage is to keep on the path.

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