Wednesday, December 16, 2009

God's Mercy

When God hardens it is not that he ceases to be merciful, but that his mercy can no more take effect upon the hardened substance of the heart.

Fr David Jenks

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jenks - FACE - The Fellow-Believer

The Fellow-Believer

“And again, I will put my trust in him.”—Heb. ii. 13.
Consider the Brother and Fellow-worshipper as also the Fellow-believer. It is fitting that the Fellow-worshipper should be the Fellow-believer; as Brother too he must also put his trust in God.
Make an act of faith in Christ’s trust in God even unto death, and examine your trust in him.

I — The Incarnate life a life of trust in God.

a.The writer has given his lessons in the form of quotations from David the suffering king, and Isaiah the representative prophet at a critical moment of history. By such illustrations he draws attention to the Messiah as realizing the sum of human experience, and as the fulfiller of the destiny of mankind.

b.The Incarnate life was the manifestation of perfect trust in God. It may be seen in his submission to the limitations and conditions of human life, domestic, social, national; in his prayers, his obedience to the Father’s will, his dependence on him; in his consciousness of mission, his independence of human judgments, his conviction of successful issue.

c.Isaiah trusted in God during Assyria’s tyranny, and led his brethren to put their hope on him (Isa. viii. 11-18. The quotation is from verse 17 Greek). Fit type of him who through the dark conflict with the world’s sin would neither compromise with the world, nor relax his trust in God in the failure of public ministry, and the hour of darkness and death; “My God, my God.”

II—Trust and faith.

a.Trust is the response of relationship. The Elder Brother has manifested for us the life of sonship; he who reveals the Father has lived under human conditions the life of filial trust, and lived it for his brethren, that united with him we too may respond to our new birth, “Begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

b.Trust is the active expression of faith. This trust in God was neither fatalism nor credulity. On the one side it was voluntary, “I lay down my life”; on the other it was the consciousness of existing facts, “I know him, and if I should say I know him not I shall be a liar like unto you.” The Christian life possesses the gift of trust as the very prompting of the nature of our sonship. We cry, “Abba, Father.”

c.Christ himself is the conviction of the Christian’s trust in God. In him we see the perfected life of sonship. And we are to grow up into him in all things, as the younger brethren, In him we see what we are to become in realization and development, what we are even now in state (see 1 S. John iii. 2).

III —Christ and the Church’s faith.

a.The Church supported by the trust of Christ in God cannot fail. Her faith is the measure of her worship, the confident assurance of her continual approach to God; the Fellow-worshipper is the Fellow-believer, and against such faith the gates of Hades cannot prevail; they failed in the hour of his death.

b.And he is the guardian of the Church’s faith. To be ready to shed portions of the faith at the urgency of the world is to deny the verity of the Fellow-believer; the Church cannot believe other than he believes. When the faith seems failing, remember the great Isaiah, the preacher of “The remnant;” “Nevertheless when the Son of Man cometh shall he find that faith on the earth” which always prays and never faints (S. Luke xviii. 8 and 1)?

c.How different is this truth of the Church as the embodiment of the Christ from the loosely held ideas of the Church! When faith fails and we seem to be losing trust in the Church, regarding it as a decaying power, then lift up the eye to the Fellow-believer, who holds all secure in himself, and speaking as the mouthpiece of the Church says, “I will put my trust in him.”

Jenks - FACE - The Son of Man

The Son of Man

“Who is this?”—S. Matt. xxi. 10.
Picture: the entry into Jerusalem.
Resolve: to think of Jesus Christ, the Man, this Advent.

I—The scene.

a.The first Advent gospel brings forcibly before us the Immediate purpose of the Incarnation: “For this cause came I into the world.” In view of that purpose the scene has for us an appalling character in its mixture of curiosity, excitement, indifference, passing favour, but readiness to be stirred up to religious violence. It seems in part to represent permanent attitudes towards the Gospel.

b.Nevertheless the crowd did not mean to attack goodness. That aspect which impresses us so strongly was lost upon them, for they did not perceive even his goodness, still less did they understand him. They only knew of him through the religious prejudice of their teachers, and from certain stories which shocked their traditions. They were sight-seers who did not even ask their question with any serious intention.

c.Through this crowd, unheeded as a force, he rode in meekness and submission to its conditions. It is we who can see in this picture a partial answer to the question: he is one whose Person is revealed in humility, whoever he may be. He will conquer by conviction of character, and not by the display of any evidence of works.

II—The Son of Man.

a.The title is especially applied to him in this connection. But to us it conveys more even than ideal humanity: it connotes to Christians the divine relation of humanity. There is the self-revelation of all the Gospel in his Person; that God could become man is the evidencing that man’s purpose can be fulfilled, and that this purpose is the expression of true and full manhood.

b.We must study for a lifetime this revelation of what man is meant to be, and must study it in the imitation of the life of the Son of Man in its many-sidedness: but never may we lose sight of the truth that it is man in his fulness, man in relation to human life, although the revelation involves aspects of life not much regarded outside Christ.

c.Exhibition of human life is an inadequate expression of that life of the Son of Man which is the revelation of the power of God in man, which is to be ours through the Man who is God made man. Imitation can only mean here the proving of the power, the finding real and operative that gift which is the spirit of Christ and therefore of God.

III —Who for us men and for our salvation.

a.Bidden on Advent Sunday ask “Who is this?” of him as he enters Jerusalem on that journey at the end of which he was to be consummated. We, being as we are; may not think of him solely as the revelation of man, and the gift of God in man; but must recognize the gift as brought to us through the mystery of his life interpreted by its close. This should suffice to save us from the adoration of Christ merely as the Example.

b.Inasmuch as this redemption is wrought out in human nature we must learn therefrom that our incorporation into him is not merely into the fruit of his redemption but into him as Redeemer; that in him the character of his life of oblation is to be reproduced in us. Thus this Gospel is in no way foreign to the season, but casts a fuller light upon the humble and neglected birth-chamber.

c.Who will dare to look with pity upon the infant who is thus to suffer and die, and not rather to adore yet more devoutly? For what is even any life worth except what it can endure, suffer to save, and so rise to its highest fulfilment through the surrender of self to the bearing of the burden of life’s deformities which mar the presentation of true humanity.