The Fourth Sunday after EasterThe Reverend Mark Carroll, MMV
Home-Fourth Sunday after Easter
O ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
1662 BCP Version
Ezekiel xxxix. 21, Psalm 147, St. James i. 17. St. John xvi. 5.
He will guide you into all truth
Fourth Sunday after Easter Home
In the Gospel appointed for this fourth Sunday after Easter, Jesus told his disciples that he would go to his Father, but that it was necessary for him to do so in order that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, could come to them. Jesus calls him the Spirit of Truth, and told the disciples that the Spirit would guide them into all truth. This promise is really the foundation for the living Church. God is with us, and our assurance is that he will guide us into all truth.
What a wonderful promise this was. The disciples, feeling sorrow that Jesus was to leave, are told a mystery. God's spirit would dwell with them in the place of Jesus, and would tell them of all the things that Jesus did not have the time to tell them. On the Day of Pentecost God sent his Holy Spirit upon the apostles to be present with them specifically, and upon all members of the new Church. The Spirit taught them many new things and led the Church in its formation and practice.
The Early Church embraced this promise and witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit through gifts, miracles, and signs. They also recognized something else: Sometimes there were disagreements in "truths". Some came with their belief that Jesus was the Son of God and divine, others that he was just a regular man. Some discerned a Triune nature of God. Some that Jesus, the Spirit, and the Father were co-equal and of the same substance. Some believed that they had freedom to live in any way they chose, regardless of what the old law had said. With so many claiming that they had a new revelation that was a "truth" inspired by the Holy Spirit, the church fathers sought ways to discern the truth.
One of the early movements of the Holy Spirit was to open the Church to Gentiles. We know of this truth being revealed to Peter when he was given a vision and went to Cornelius the Centurion, and then reported this truth to his brothers in a Church council [Acts 10 & 11]. Later Paul was moved to rebuke those Christians who taught that Gentiles must undergo circumcision and other rituals of the Jews. He brought this matter to a Church council who discerned by discussions amongst themselves what the Spirit had revealed. Later in the First Ecumenical Council the Church addressed the nature of Jesus, and denied the teachings of a large group of Christians who taught that Jesus had been created by the Father. Their discernment of the truth led to the Nicene Creed that most Christians affirm.
Today the Church is divided. The last truly ecumenical council was in the Eighth Century. Since then the Church has had many different elements claiming they were led by the Spirit in a different way. It is difficult for me to imagine there are many truths, but we continue in this pattern. It is often difficult to know who is right. We know that some changes are not addressed by Scripture and represent one way of many of worshipping or organizing. However, other innovations are contradictory to both Scripture and tradition - and are rejected out-of-hand by most Christians. The words of our collect seem so appropriate to these movements for today: among the many diverse and manifold changes of the world, may our hearts be fixed on our Lord. May we look to the example of those of Berea, who searched the Scripture diligently to see if those things taught by were to be found. Let us also consider the Wisdom of tradition, the Holy Spirit working in the Church, as we consider truth and error. Even though the Church is divided, may the many different factions of the Church Militant stand together in strength against innovations that threatened our core beliefs, and may God lead us as Christian brothers in all truth.
The Reverend Mark Carroll 2005
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Ezekiel xxxix. 21
And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward. And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid. When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
St. James i. 17.
EVERY good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
St. John xvi. 5.
JESUS said unto his disciples, Now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.