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Sunday 17th December 2017 11:00
Sung Eucharist for the Third Sunday of Advent followed by Coffee Hour
Celebrant and Preacher: Rev'd Nathanial

Sunday 24th December 2017 11:00
Service of Nine Lessons and Carols followed by Coffee Hour
Leader: Rev'd Nathanial

Sunday 24th December 2017 23:30
Midnight Eucharist for Christmas
Celebrant and Preacher: Rev'd Nathanial

Sunday 25th December 2017 11:00
Family Eucharist for Christmas Day
Celebrant and Preacher: Rev'd Nathanial

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20th October – Trinity 21 – Jack Noonan

 
 

Sermon (Click Link to Listen)

Bible Readings: Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 3. 14 – 4. 5 & Luke 18. 1-8

Sermon Text on 2. Timothy 3: 14 – 4: 5

There comes a time in preparing a sermon when we need to stop reading and rummaging through scattered notes and thoughts… face the blank screen and write in faith.

It was while reading Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy, his spiritual son whom he loved, a very personal, a letter written from prison, shortly before he was executed, that my spiritual heart magnets were activated; drawing me… while reading the letter… down the corridor of long forgotten memories from childhood.

The Story

I was about 6, and really not able to read, my Aunt Eilin, who was a nun in America, sent me a children’s bible. I remember never tiring of looking at the illustrations. This ‘bible’ went everywhere with me. It was never out of hand. I treasured it.

One day at the gate of the garden our neighbour’s son, who was around my own age, stopped and asked me what was the book. I replied that it was the Bible and that ( having learned it from my mother) it is the Word of God. (I smile that even at 6, I was becoming an Evangelical Protestant Irish Roman Catholic).

He asked to borrow it so I lent it to him.

Some indeterminate time passed and as he had not returned it I went up the hill to his house, knocked at the door and asked for him. When he came to the door I asked him for my ‘bible’. He replied that his mother had burned it because it was a Protestant book.

Now 58 years later I relive the effect that statement had on me. They burned the Word of God. It blanked my heart and mind. I said nothing. Just walked numbly home.

I never ever spoke about the incident to the family or to anyone else. It is only very recently that glimmerings of these memories began to resurface but came into sharp focus as I read 2ndTimothy.

The verse that struck home is

‘’All Scripture is breath out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness’’ .

Reading this verse rekindled all the wonder that was in that 6yr old boy in Cork.

At Caroline’s Farewell I mentioned the verse to our own Alan Schmidt. That evening he emailed some 21 translations of the verse to me. What an embarrassment of riches ! All the translations had the same truth-pulse.

All/ Every Scripture is there because they were…

God breathed …inspired by God… given by inspiration of God…divinely inspired… written by The Spirit.

It is important to note that the verse is not saying that every translation of the Scripture is divinely inspired; though the translation may have moments of humanly inspired writing.

Inspiration does not relate to the quality or talent of the writer and is not something superimposed on a writer in a zombie trance -like mental state.

Inspiration is the creative activity of the Holy Spirit. Sacred Scripture owes its very existence to the direct creative activity of God Himself. Although man wrote it, it is God who brought it into being. They are God breathed…God inspired. This gives them tremendous authority.

Authority, enabling them, according to Young’s Literal translation; ‘profitable for teaching, for conviction, for setting aright, for instruction that is in righteousness’

When the creator of a work is mortal what is created has the stamp of the finite. When the Creator is Infinite it has the stamp of The Eternal. Authors shine through their work.

The Scripture we read do not have their origins in the impulse of man, but by men moved by God the Holy Spirit.

It is not possible to adequately address all the issues in relation to the nature of inspiration and the authority of Scripture in a 15 minute sermon.

This is a responsibility and adventure for each of us to undertake. For it behoves each of us to be clear in our understanding regarding the authority of Scripture and what The Word of God speaks into our lives. The verse from Hosea must not be applicable applicable to us:

‘’My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge’’.

For how we view the inspiration Scriptures will affect the authority we attach to them. Scholarly writing need to be discriminately selected. With some you experience excitement and illumination. They feed the spirit. Some however possess the ‘leaven of the Pharisees’ and cling like a sticky cloud to the spirit. Best bet is ask folk you respect and trust to make a recommendation.

The Scriptures, still the world’s best seller having over 6 million copies printed; is more a library of 66 books, written by some 40 authors

Yet despite this array of Biblical authors and the span of time the 2 testaments gel into a coherent, understandable and amazing story. Though containing a variety of forms/genres of literature, it can be seen that its end product, is not a book, not a building, not a set of principles or a system of ethics… but a person in two natures… Jesus Christ.

The plot line of the story is The Logos/the Word/ Jesus. His story begins not in the stable in Bethlehem, but, as John wrote; ‘’In the beginning the Word was with God and the word was God.’ Jesus exists from Eternity Past.

The plot-line of God’s pre-existent son weaves its way from Genesis through to Revelation. Jesus Christ the incarnate God …who entered time and space to be our perfect theology.

It is important to see how Jesus, The Christ, the second person of the Triune Godhead regarded Scripture.

Throughout His time on earth He often referred to ; the Scriptures… the Law/Torah.. the prophets.. and the Law and the prophets. These references presuppose the existence of a collection of sacred writings familiar to the Jews.

He often used quotations from the scriptures to support what He said. Many times introducing quotations from Scripture with the authoritative phrase; ‘It is written…’

In the Gospels we see Jesus acknowledging the authority of Scripture as God’s Word.

1. in replying to objections and questions… He quotes the Scriptures. No one ever proves Him wrong and opponents were reduced to silence.

2. He uses Scripture to interpret Scripture, and unlike the rabbis, often emphasising and elaborating the inner , fuller meaning of the verse.

3. He uses the Scriptures to prove that He is Son of David and The Messiah.

4. In Nazareth He uses the prophetic scriptures from Isaiah to declare Himself and His mission.

5. He uses Scripture (Mal 3;1) to confirm the authority of John the Baptist.

6. Jesus knows that there is power in the Word of God and uses Scripture in overcoming trial and temptation. It is worth noting that in the temptations in the wilderness Satan mutilates the Scriptures he uses.( Ps 91:11-12)

7. Jesus in defending Himself and when He is dying on the cross uses Scripture.

8. In relation to His disciples He used Scriptures to protect them against the offence and scorn that will come upon them by being His disciples and when they experience the betrayal and panic during the time of His suffering and crucifixion.

9. The disciples slowly learned to accept Jesus, the Redeemer and Messiah such as God had already promised Him to be in the Scriptures.

10. And finally the sermon of sermons ,on the road to Emmaus, Jesus opened the eyes of His fellow travellers to His prophetic story line throughout Scripture. Their hearts burned with His exposition

In Jesus’ use of the Scriptures we find He recognises the OT as possessing authority in its entirety as the true Word of God valid for all time.

He seals with His authority numerous facts which are related in Scripture and… the historic occurrence of numerous events.

He believes in Creation by God. He acknowledges the first couple. He refers to Cain and Abel, to Noah, to the Flood and the Ark.

Jesus, God incarnate, accords divine inspiration to Moses. He believes in the miracle of the manna and the incident involving the raising of the brass serpent and He believes in Jonah.

The life of a believer is always a spiritual journey. A growth into intimacy with the multifaceted Oneness of God in Christ..

We need sanctified reasoning, sanctified hearts and profound spiritual and intellectual humility so we can bathe in the Word of Truth that sets us free.

At all times we, as with Peter when he was sinking under the stormy waves, must look in faith to Jesus. He is the indwelling Living Word, The Way, The Truth and the Life. Faithful and unchanging.

He purposefully established His Church and sent the Holy Spirit to be in His effective replacement…a fiery, great and competent Teacher, Helper and Comforter.

In our quest to search into the riches of Christ He is our Ultimate Guide…. And in relation to the Scriptures, He is the author and interpretor. Seek Him out!

For without His active interaction with us as we read and search His Writings it will simply remain a curiously interesting collection of ancient literature. With the Holy Spirit the letter dies and the Word comes alive for ‘the word of the Lord endures for ever.’

Amen.