The Prayer of Collect
The Third Sunday After Easter
ALMIGHTY God, who showest to them that are in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; Grant unto all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s Religion, that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Even at the moment of the Resurrection of Christ, the spirit of anti-Christ was afoot. Roman guards were bribed to conceal the truth of what happened at the Garden Tomb before sunrise on Easter morning. Institutions, even the Churches, that draw their power and influence from political man, are a part and portion of that spirit of anti-Christ. The focus of our Collect for this week centers on a plea against error and darkness.
So is this phenomenon relegated to the past only? Not hardly. How many silly women and naïve men are being deceived today by books claiming that someone has gone to heaven or hell and returned to tell us about it? Paul gives profound warning of this delusional aspect of error: 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. (2 Tim 3:1-7) The deception of those who read such light-headed drama is not innocent, but deliberate. They choose to believe a lie over and above the Word of God. This places their very souls in jeopardy. Did not Mother Eve do the same?
God does reveal to those who seek in earnest, His absolute Truth! He revealed it to Adam and Eve, and they disregarded that truth and brought death and sin upon – not only human race – but the world at large. ALMIGHTY God, who showest to them that are in error the light of thy truth. It is amazing to me, and even shocking, that those who are in error and claim to be sound Bible believers will accept the word of a fictional writer over that of clear biblical proofs. The reason is simple: they prefer to believe the fantasy before they will believe the truth. Beware, again, the words of St. Paul: 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion,that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess 2:7-12)
For what purpose does God reveal the Light of Truth to those who are in error? “…..to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness.” If deceitful men and books have led a man or woman away from the path of truth, surely they will believe once the error is pointed out to them, won’t they? Often they do not because they prefer the lie to the truth. To those who love truth to the exclusion of popular fantasies, that truth will always bring again to understanding truth.
There are two points of purpose that should govern the thoughts and actions of a Christian: 1) Possessing such knowledge and understanding of truth so as to recognize and AVOID error. Grant unto all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s Religion, that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession. 2) Possessing such truth and wisdom of God’s Word in our hearts so that we order our lives in the very way of that righteousness in truth described by God in His Word. “….and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same.” Of course, we are enabled to do these things “…through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
How is it possible that we sit under Godly preaching and worship, Sunday after Sunday, repeating the prayers of the Collects and, yet, have no intention of being faithful to those prayers we have uttered collectively? Is this not taking the Name of the Lord in vain if we pray with false intention and motive? Do we really mean it when we pray the Lord’s Prayer? Do we REALLY desire HIS will to be done, or do we tenaciously hold to a lie and follow our own wills in deception of truth? Do we REALLY seek only our daily bread, or do we seek the bread of others to add to our own? Are we truly repentant in seeking His forgiveness of our sins? Have we turned from them? If so, have we followed the corollary of the prayer to forgive others in like manner in which God has forgiven us? Do we truly glorify God with our minds, heart, body, and spirits? If we recognize the Lord as the awesome and almighty Savior that He is, why do we follow silly fantasies that add to, or take away, from the Word of God? I am becoming disillusioned, not so much by unbelievers of the world as, with professed believers who disregard the Word of God and live and believe with flippant disregard for that Word. But I recognize my obligation, and the obligation of every clergyman and laity to persist in teaching, in rebuking, and in edifying the Church.
THE HOLY GOSPEL
1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. 12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. (John 14:1-14)
The unsurpassed serenity of the heart of Christ is so well demonstrated in His counsel to us, moments before His passion, to not let OUR hearts be troubled. What magnanimity is demonstrated in a heart that cares for our peace at a time when the scurrilous clouds of pain and death hang, as the Sword of Damocles, over His virtuous head – but with a greater certainty of fulfillment. In fact, the Lord has only sought to lift our hearts and spirits in these last days of His Passion and Death. Should He not occupy His mind with the thoughts of a brutally unfair trial that looms ahead….the humiliation and suffering….the horrible death of the Cross? Yet, instead, His heart is possessed by an undying Love for His own whose fragile existence will be so rocked by the coming events. This is the perfect Man and the Perfect God.
General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur, was a stellar cadet in his early years at the US Military Academy at West Point. He later became the Superintendent of the Academy and made many improvements to the program there that prevail until today. Months before his death, MacArthur delivered his Farewell Address to the Corps of Cadets at West Point on May 12, 1962. The General concluded his remarks with: “Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps.” Those were memorable lines with which to conclude a remarkable and fascinating military career. But look at the concluding words of Christ, and His Love demonstrated in them, on the eve of an ordeal of which great men of history could never have contemplated without an overarching obsession. Truly, He loved us until the end.
1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In the concluding verse of the last chapter, Jesus has told Peter that he will deny Him thrice before the cock crows. Now, He continues with the loving counsel to us ward that we not allow our hearts to be troubled on account of events about to unfold. These words offer comfort to Peter, but not to him alone for the pronoun ‘YE’ is plural and signifies its meaning to each of us. There are considerations that transcend pain, suffering and death. The kind of love that filled the heart of our Lord, and by adoption, our own hearts, is that which transcends death. Truth, Light, Life, Love – all transcend death for their quality is not of the temporary expanse of this earthly life, but comes from the Eternity of Heaven. It is not possible to have a firm faith in God the Father without a corresponding faith in God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. As a good Hebrew Son upon betrothal to His future Bride, He will go and prepare a place of lodging for Himself and His Bride under the supervision of His Father. Of course, the provision is made by the Father as well in that He has many mansions that will afford residence for the fullness of the Wedding Feast. When preparation are complete, whether morning, noon, or late night, the Son will come for His Bride – the Church. He prepares a place for us in two ways at least: by dying on the Cross at Calvary thus purchasing our redemption so that we would be made worthy through that sacrifice; and, secondly, by ascending to the right hand of the Father to make timely intercession for His Elect.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. Noah found the only place of security was in the Ark of God when God said unto Noah, And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. (Gen 7:1) You will note that God did not tell Noah to GO into the Ark, but COME into the Ark, because the place of security is always the place of God’s Presence. Our hope would not be full without the sure knowledge that we would be called to be with Christ at His Coming. We shall live by the Rovers of Waters and eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life, and every provision made for our souls in an Eternity with Christ. We shall not hang our harps in despondency upon the willows of Babylon, but sing our songs to Zion in the New Jerusalem prepared by our Lord. (Psalms 137:3-4)
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Do we KNOW the WAY? If not, we are about to be told. Oftentimes, we know more than we realize. The possession of knowledge itself is not always a guarantee of wisdom, but knowing the means of employing the knowledge that we have is the key to Wisdom. All of the disciples KNEW Christ, but did they truly know His full Person and nature? As we read the Gospels, does the beauty and nature of Christ burst upon our hearts with the warm love of KNOWING Him? Or do we simply read dead words. If the Words of Scripture are not accented with Love and Life, they remain dead to the marginal believer.
5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? If Christ says we KNOW the Way, do we believe Him? Apparently, Thomas had yet to learn that the Words of Christ were Truth only. It is, by the way, perfectly normal that we should at times question our faith and seek further assurance from Christ in study and in prayer. So we mustn’t judge Thomas more harshly than we judge ourselves. Even when we began our Bible study with a complete trust in the Word, our studies should lead us to question and seek fuller Light.
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. There is no Life apart from that offered in Christ. Have you believed that there is no life apart from that granted in Christ – that He is the Creator of life itself? All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:3-4) Have you believed that He is the Way (DOOR to the Sheepfold) and that there is no other entry but by Him? If so, you will know that He is the WAY! Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. (John 10:7) Have you believed His message? Have you known Him to be the Truth personified? But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: (Eph 4:20-21) You may know all of the above facts intellectually, but if they have not come to be the Crown Jewel of your heart, they are dead facts to you.
7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. The faith of Abraham was a great faith. It looked forward in promise and hope to the coming of Christ. In that faith, Abraham KNEW God the Father. Without that nature of Christ, made visible to us in His Incarnation, we could not know the mercy, truth, and grace of God the Father. Christ is, as we would have said in the Tennessee vernacular, “the spitting image of His Father!” In a note I earlier shared on the Trinity, Dr. Nathan Wood (The Secret of the Universe) illustrates its nature in terms of directions (dimensions) in space. Without three directions (dimensions) there is no space. All three dimensions are required to establish space. He further disannuls the claim, by some, of the impracticability of Three Persons in one Godhead when they offer the formula, 1+1+1=3. They claim that this would cause God to be three gods. But Dr. Wood gives the formula another way, 1x1x1=1 in which the very nature of each component part of the Trinity equals the whole and each member totally pervades the nature of each OTHER member.
8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Light itself resides in God – the Father, the son, & the Holy Ghost. Light itself is not visible to the human eye. It can pass through a dark vacuum and never be seen by us, yet it is there. In order for us to know light, it must impact a material object. That material object of god the Father is Jesus Christ. He came in a physical body so that we may, by knowing and seeing Him, know the Father and see the Father. Philip desired some partial revelation of the Father by Christ not knowing that all that Christ was pictured the Father in full detail.
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Jesus exercises a patience dictated by love when answering Philip. Philip was one of the first disciples to be called (John 1:43) yet he had not learned fully in his heart that Christ was a full revelation of the Father. After the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Lord, we hear no more of these doubtful questions, for the Holy Ghost will bring all things to remembrance of those things written of Christ in the Scriptures.
10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. If we look closely, we may read a stinging rebuke to our own living testimony. All that Christ did and said was so much perfectly representative of the Father that it would be nigh on to impossible to miss. When men look at our actions and words, do they see the Father with whom we, too, are supposed to be One?
11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. If you do not believe the very Words of Christ, than, at least, believe Him by His actions and life. Can humankind raise another from the sleep of death as Christ raised Lazarus? Can humankind restore vision to eyes that have been dark from birth, or restore a leper, or heal the lame? Can humankind walk on water? Did Christ these things?
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. Please do not misunderstand these words to mean that believers can entertain with their works, or perform wonders for profit. If our minds are conformed to the Mind of God, we shall do the works of God without fanfare and solely to His Glory. Our works, therefore, will never be showy or prideful, but will reflect the perfect will of God. The Lord Jesus Christ was confined to a body while in this life. The physical limitations prevented Him from doing that which He could accomplish on our behalf when He was at the right hand of the Father. The Holy Ghost, our Comforter, is an omnipresent agency whereby all things may be accomplished at all places, and at all times, according to the Father’s will.
13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. This does not have the meaning that many modern professors force upon it. As commissioned agents of the Lord Jesus Christ, we do have the authority to act in His name just as a commissioned officer of the military has the authority to act in the name of the President; but we do not have license to act outside the purpose, will, and intent of the authority in whose name we act. Those things that we ask in the Name of Christ will never be things that are contrary to His will to grant. The Father is glorified when the Redeemed of Christ ask only those things which it is the Father’s good pleasure to grant.
14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. The charismatics have falsely insisted that we can demand things of God and that He must grant them or break His promise. Do you agree with this deceptive claim? Suppose we ask and God does not grant? Why has our prayer failed? There are two primary reasons given in Scripture, all relating to the Sovereign Will of God: 1) Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3) or, 2) If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. (Psalms 66:18) Where may we find the perfect solution to the dilemma we may face in the above? Why not resort to the very counsel of Christ given in Matthew 6 – Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matt 6:9-13) What untoward request does this prayer make? Not one! It opens with an honorific to God. It is a ‘communal’ prayer because it begins with “OUR”. It prays for our daily bread which it is the Lord’s will to grant always. It evokes the will of God on our lives on earth as well as it is done it heaven. It begs forgiveness for transgressions, which are many, and perseverance against the temptations of the world. It ends with a further acknowledgement of God, His Kingdom, His Power, and His Glory (not ours). AMEN. There is not a single selfish request in this prayer, and it only asks that the will of God be done – not MY will, but THINE! Have your prayers been like unto this model of all prayers?