PRESENTATION OF THE HOLY BIBLE
IT IS MY PRIVILEGE TO PRESENT TO YOU A COPY OF THE ‘HOLY BIBLE’ WHICH IS THE GREATEST BOOK EVER
THIS BOOK WAS OVER 1500 YEARS IN THE MAKING AND THERE WAS A PERIOD OF SOME 400 YEARS BETWEEN THE HISTORY OF THE LAST BOOK OF THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE FIRST OF THE NEW.
SUBSEQUENTLY TEN CENTURIES PASSED BEFORE THE FIRST CRUDE AND PARTIAL TRANSLATION IN ENGLISH APPEARED, WHICH RESULTED IN OUR FIRST AUTHORISED VERSION IN THE REIGN OF KING JAMES IN (ANNO DOMINI 1611)
THE HOLY-BIBLE CONTAINS LAW, HISTORY, POETRY, PROPHECY, LETTER, MORALS, PHILOSOPHY, MEDICINE, DIVINE LIGHT AND TRUTH.
ITS AUTHORSHIP IS NO LESS VARIED. AMONGST ITS CONTRIBUTORS-WERE LAWYERS, HISTORIANS, POETS, PROPHETS, TEACHERS, MYSTICS, KINGS, SHEPHERDS AND FISHERMEN.
AS SILVER THREADS GLEAM IN DARKER FABRIC SO FLASHES OF LIGHT ARISE FROM ITS PAGES, REFLECTING THE CHARACTER OF ‘GOD’ AND HIS LOVE FOR MANKIND.
EVERYTHING THAT COULD BE DONE HAS BEEN DONE IN THE AGE OF INTOLERANCE TO DESTROY THIS BOOK. MEN HAVE BEEN IMPRISONED, TORTURED AND BURNED AT THE STAKE FOR DEFENDING ITS TEACHINGS.
ITS PAGES HAVE BEEN MOISTENED THESE HUNDRED OF YEARS BY TEARS OF JOY AND OF SORROW.
THEY HAVE BEEN THUMBED AND SOILED BY THE FINGERS OF KINGS AND PRISONERS IN THEIR CELLS
MONARCH AND PEASANT ALIKE HAVE FOUND IT A SOURCE OF CONSOLATION, STRENGTH, COURAGE AND HOPE.
ON PRESENTING YOU WITH THIS BOOK I WOULD LIKE YOU TO READ IT FREQUENTLY
NOT WITH YOUR EYES ALONE BUT ALSO WITH YOUR HEART.
AS YOU GROW FAMILIAR WITH ITS CONTENTS SO SO WILL IT BE AS A LAMP UNTO YOUR PATH AND AN EVER READY LANDMARK IN YOUR FUTURE LIFE
In Psalm 118 we have read:
“The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation”
Encouraging words from a Psalm rejoicing in the security and mercy given by God to his people.
Salvation – such a big word – and it has echoes for us in the evangelist’s call – “Come to Jesus and you will be saved”. But sometimes we find it difficult to comprehend – Saved from what?, Saved for what?
What is God saying when he offers salvation?
Think of a swimmer getting into difficulties – flailing and panicking – sinking, drowning – and the lifeguard swims out and pulls him ashore – on to the security of land, out of the enveloping water. The lifeguard has saved him – but what happens next. Does the swimmer say – thanks very much I am saved, so I will go back into the sea now – I am not any different than I was before? Possibly.
Or does he say – I am saved, I value my life more, I am going to live differently – stop swimming, or learn to swim safely, or teach others to swim well? Whatever he does – he is on his own, the lifeguard has walked away and getting on with saving others.
Is that our understanding of salvation? – help out of difficulties and then left to get on with it on our own again?
I want to look a bit more closely at the words and actions of Jesus which we read about in John chapter 20.
Those who at Kilmory Chapel on Easter Morning ,may remember we looked at this reading, and how the disciples in their despair and confusion over Jesus death, their anxiety over the missing body of Jesus, and their perplexity over Mary’s claim to have seen Jesus, suddenly had Jesus beside them saying – “Peace, I give you”. Peace, you can almost hear them shouting – Peace, how can you expect us to have peace after all we have been through! – but that is what they needed, and that is what Jesus gave them – Peace – slowing down their racing minds, giving sense out of their confusion, soothing their anxieties. Saving them from their fears.
The risen Jesus gives peace into our troubled lives – He stands with us and brings peace.
So we could say that Jesus has become my salvation because he has brought me peace.
But Jesus does not leave it at that – he doesn’t say – “Peace be with you” and then leave, – there is more he has to say, to offer in His visit.
Look at verse 21:
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you”
“As the Father has sent me, I send you” Jesus is saying – this is not the finished, it is only the start –
The Father sent me to “ bring good news to the poor, to release the captives, bring sight to the blind, set prisoners free.”
He sent me to show people how the Father would want us to live, to behave. He sent me to challenge injustice, and to shine light into dark places, He sent me to defeat evil and corruption and to show people the Kingdom of God, to bring life, reality, truth.
Jesus said –“ I am the way, the truth and the life – no-one comes to the Father but by me”
Jesus said – “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life”
“As the Father sent me, so I send you” I have given you peace – now I give you direction. – GO
You have a purpose –“ I have not suffered and died, and overcome death so you can go on living as you have been. No, I am giving you a new purpose – a new way of living, a new direction – as I have been sent – so I send you!” To live following my way – tyo live as i have shown you – to live as the Father has made you!
And this is all very well and good. We are sitting on the beach having been pulled out the water – our lungs are emptied and we can breath again. We are recovered, and the lifeguard can say to us – “Relax now, be at peace you are safe”
And “so…you are alive, you could have drowned, what are you going to do with your life now? Will you live differently?”
Good advice, but that is all it is, it doesn’t help you change anything. You can still be anxious and the peace alludes you, you can decide to change your life style – but can you do it on your own?
What Jesus says next is the clincher – what Jesus says next changes everything, this moves this whole episode from being a quiet motivational discussion into a cosmic earthquake – a shaking of tectonic plates, the shuddering of the universe.
Jesus breathes on them and says “Receive the Holy Spirit”. He says -Here is the Holy Spirit – I am giving you God.
Now the Triune nature of God is a mystery. The idea of the Trinity can make you brain hurt. But none the less we worship God who is three in one – three beings one. Separate yet combined. A mystery well beyond our comprehension, but that does not make it impossible.
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
And Jesus says to His followers “I am giving you one part of God – the Holy Spirit – here he is – receive Him”
Now, with the Pentecostal and the Charismatic movements of recent times we are quite familiar with this idea of the Holy Spirit being with us, and guiding and helping us pray – and we also have all the stories in Acts and the teaching in the New Testament letters about the Holy Spirit, but at that time the Holy Spirit was rarely referred to – To these disciples – He is God hovering over the waters at the very start of creation, he guides Moses to free Israel from Egypt, the boy David is anointed with the Holy Spirit to lead Israel to security and prosperity. Elijah, Elisha, Ezekial, Isaiah are all inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is God working alongside his special people, and Jesus says to His followers – here he is – a gift – Receive the holy spirit. They are being given the very presence of God.
We are saved through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God. We are saved through submitting to Him as Son of God.
In that salvation he gives us peace, and direction, purpose – and in this third gift He gives the presence of God to empower us, to enable us to know the reality of His peace, and then to be able to take on the task of Going – of being sent – of following His way.
We, as disciples, as followers of Jesus, are being given God’s presence. Just ponder that for a moment. Jesus says – “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus doesn’t just give us kind words, or comforting sayings; He doesn’t give us a set of instructions, or rules to follow so we will be all right. He stands beside us and he gives us the presence of God – God’s Holy spirit to infuse our lives, to be part of our beings – so we are different from who we were before we knew Him, before we accepted His gift of salvation, before we accepted him as “the Way, the truth and the life.”
So never underestimate what God can do in our lives, with our lives. Never underestimate what God can do with us as individuals, and as a church.
As we remember the resurrected Christ visiting His disciples – remember too, that His promise is for all His followers:
Peace: calmness, contentment, security,
Direction: purpose, assurance, confidence
and above all – Presence -The Holy spirit, the presence of God – infusing and completing our life – and with whom all things are possible.