A Devotion For 16 October 2020 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. 2But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: 3And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” (Mal 3:1-3; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
An ambassador is one who represents the sovereign power of his own nation to a foreign nation. The Kingdom of God is a wonderful domain far above any conceivable to the mind of man. The earth is definitely a foreign power compared to that of Heaven even if it possesses no power whatsoever to threaten the Gates of Splendor. John the Baptist was a sent as an advance herald of the coming of the very Ambassador of God the Father. But it was our Lord Jesus Christ (God the Son) who was the only legitimate Ambassador with authority to speak for the Father.
From the distant venue of eternity past, before the worlds were made, a decision was made in the Councils of Heaven concerning the man that God would create to populate the world which He would make. Even before the first word was uttered by the mouth of God in Creation, it was decided that mankind would require a Savior to redeem him from his sins. God would create man and woman in His own image and likeness and, in so doing, man would have a will that was capable of discerning between right and wrong. The world itself would be a stage upon which man could learn knowledge and wisdom, or perish in the absence of it.
Knowing the frame of mankind which He would create, God knew that the heart of man would be fickle and changeable – so much so, that he would never be able to keep the Commandments of the Lord his God. He would sin and fall short of the glory of God; and the presence of sin could never be tolerated in the Presence of the Lord his God. This would present a dilemma for man. How would he be made pure to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven on his own merits which were woefully short of the required righteousness of Heaven?
It became the role of our Lord Jesus Christ, even in eternity past, to meet that requirement as Redeemer, Lord, and Savior. It was He who would be the Lamb of God : “16 . . . . Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” 1 Peter 1:16-21
It will be well to note that we, too, were chosen and predestined in eternity past: “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Eph 1:3-7 (KJV)
There is a contingent plan involved in our salvation – that only ONE of perfect innocence could redeem sinful man. May I tell you that other creatures such as pets and wild animals, not knowing the law, are innocent of the sins of which man is guilty. In fact, the first innocent blood shed upon the earth was of an animal (perhaps a lamb) whose life God took in order to cover the nakedness (sins) of our first parents in Eden. (see Genesis 3:21) This also prefigured the Lamb of God who was to come as Redeemer. But Christ is Holy. He is perfectly righteous though He was tempted in every way as we are. He never gave in to sin. By the power of His Word, He rebuked the Dark Prince of the forty-day wilderness – “It is written!” I learned the power of this approach as a child. If I once declared my intended sin to be a violation of the will of God, and quoted scripture to fortify my stand, I found that I simply could not do that thing with which I was tempted. That does not mean that I did not sin in a thousand different ways, but at least not THAT one occasion of temptation. I believe the Word of God is our best defense against the devil – in fact, I KNOW it is., and should be depended upon in every circumstance of temptation. But we gain Heaven, not by our own righteousness, but the IMPUTED righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The imagination of man needs a physical example to represent reality. God gave Adam and Eve only ONE Commandment in the Garden at Eden and, yet, they could not even keep that ONE. Instead of choosing the Tree of Life (representing Christ), they chose the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil rendering them subject to sin and a bondservant thereof. The self-will of man is imbued with a propensity to sin. Man presumes his self-will to be what some call ‘free will,’ but that would be a grave error. The self-will of man is nothing other than bondage to sin and the devil. There is no freedom of will or soul apart from the redemption made available in Jesus Christ. When we surrender our self-wills to Him and put on the Mind that is in Christ, then are our wills truly free. Our desires now match those of our Lord perfectly and we are free in all things.
Like a fearful wild animal, man could not identify with a God who was apart and above them. If anything, they feared such an unseen God. So God’s plan of redemption was continually worked out in man’s failure to keep the Commandments, by the prophets God sent, and finally by His Ambassador in the Person and Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. At His coming, man was able to identify with God. They came to know sinless perfection in a Redeemer. This Ambassador did not make demands of His followers which He was unwilling to satisfy Himself. He lived a life of physical deprivation not having a place to lie His head. He labored from sunrise to midnight to teach and to counsel, to heal and to make alive.
Finally, this Ambassador showed us the meaning of bearing our crosses. Down the Via Dolorosa He bore a shameful, rough-hewn cross. He never complained nor hesitated to do that which must be done. Love was His compelling force. Having spilled His life-blood at Calvary, He was buried in a borrowed tomb. In this, He demonstrated that we, too, would be buried in a borrowed tomb for we would arise at the last Trump. He did arise on the third day as prophesied. His mission accomplished, He would ascend to the Father again at whose right hand He sits as our High Priest and Intercessor. But He did not leave us alone. He has sent His Comforter in the Person of the Holy Ghost to guide, teach and remind us of all that is mentioned of our Lord in the Law, prophets, Gospels, Epistles and every other parcel of Holy Writ. The Mission of the Holy Ghost is to point us to Christ – not to glorify Himself.
The Ambassador of Heaven having returned to His domain, He has left us as His emissaries to carry forth the Gospel Banner into all the world. We do so, not to satisfy political, financial, or social objectives, but to satisfy the claims of our Sovereign King on High. He has commissioned us to act on His behalf and with His authority insofar as we do so in accordance with His Holy Word. That is the meaning of a commission – to act on behalf, and with the authority, of our sovereign. The last Words of our Lord prior to His ascension are recorded below:
“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Amen
We have a formidable responsibility in satisfying the commission given us. Please read it once more – word for word. If we take upon our shoulders the responsibility to teach others the way of righteousness, how well we must demonstrate that righteousness in our own lives! We must do more than teach the ‘rudiments’ of the Gospel, but “ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Are we fulfilling our mission as His emissaries?