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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sermon Summary For Trinity XVI 2014


O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live. Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back. For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth. The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the Lord.  Isaiah 38:16-20 (KJV)

"you have cast all my sins behind your back"
 
This, looked at in context, shows an ignorance of resurrection. There was a belief of a shadowy existence in Sheol after death only.

Some form of continuation after death was acknowledged:
So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.” But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?” Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.” Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” “Bring up Samuel,” he said. When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!” The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?” The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth.” “What does he look like?” he asked. “An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said. Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” “I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.” 1 Samuel 28:8-15.

Much was unknown.
Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” Ecclesiastes 3:21.
Therefore, King Hezekiah gives thanks for cured sickness and continuation of earthly life, not knowing of any blessing after death. Is his prayer therefore simply mistaken, based on false premises? Yes and no. It has been included for a reason as a poetic prayer of a good king. One can be right unintentionally in God's Providence, even prophetically so.
He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, (John 11:51).

Sensus plenior (fuller meaning):
God does not abandon his people to death and Sheol, but redeems them from these, though they must walk the way of the Cross and pass through the gateway of death first. And what is the foundation of this redemption? The forgiveness of sins. Note the imagery for this forgiveness: our sins cast behind God's back by Him. In other places, Scripture says God remembers them no more. Metaphor, but the reality is unfathomable. God really treats sins as irrelevancies fit to be tossed aside upon forgiveness. Invisible to Him, as it were. Not forgotten, wilfully ignored. If we truly repent, He doesn't care anymore.
 
This is the great deliverance, the most powerful healing, that is connected to the final wholeness and restoration of resurrection. There may still be times of discipline and pain, and the requirement to reconcile with those we have sinned against, even after forgiveness. But none of that changes the enormity of it. If we are in a state of grace, we have freedom from the heavy burden of guilt, the knowledge that God sees us as cleansed and sacred to Him, and so we must see ourselves.
 
If we would be better Christians, let us first take completely seriously our forgiveness, our justification. This will encourage us, motivate us to thanksgiving in word and deed, and make sin more abhorrent to us. For once we set its evil against God's mercy at the Cross, we will not want to be so heartless as to take deliberate advantage of that gift, and treat it with contempt.
 
 
If we do knowingly fall into serious sin, let this thought bring us back to God with sorrow out of offending against his love, a sorrow that returns that love, and returns to that love. That is what theologians call perfect contrition, or just contrition instead of attrition, which is repentance from fear or something similar. Then, let us be willing to resort to sacramental, specific confession for the certifying declaration and sealing of God's glorious forgiveness. 

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