Updated: Jan 28
This is the first Sunday after an apostle’s “Ordination Ceremony.” Today the newly “ordained” begin their true calling.
To be “ordained” one has been: “Invested with ministerial or priestly authority; or conferred with holy orders; or decreed by virtue of higher authority.”
A priest comes out of a program that is a worldly approval of that investment, conference, and decree. However, it is not a school that ordains apostles.
No Church has the power to give the Holy Spirit to anyone. Therefore, apostles are not employed by the will of churches. No church advertises a job opening for just anyone to volunteer to fill.
Churches can only play a role in discerning the call of a priest, such that a “calling” is defined as “An inner urge or a strong impulse, especially one believed to be divinely inspired.” The key words in that definition are “inner” and “divine.”
The discernment of a candidate for ordination is to determine if the Holy Spirit is within one. Discernment can also determine if one simply wishes to be associated with a church, because they think being within a building of worship places one with the divine.
There is a difference, which should be obvious.
In addition, it should be realized that only those who are filled with the Holy Spirit can truly discern what candidates for ordination are filled with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the discernment process should not take long, because “it takes one to know one.”
In the readings today, these issues of ordination are brought forth. The proverb asks, “Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?” Paul wrote to the Christians of Rome saying, “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand.” And Jesus told his would-be apostles, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”
Wisdom, understanding, peace, grace, and truth are all words describing the same thing – the Holy Spirit. That presence of God within one’s being IS the ordination to priesthood, as a true Christian sent to transform others into true Christians.
Now, in the psalm we read aloud today – Psalm 8 – verse two sings, “Out of the mouths of infants and children your majesty is praised above the heavens.” This too is a condition of the Holy Spirit’s presence.
Still, more than seeing this as a miracle of children speaking in the tongues of the Lord, it is a statement of how us grizzled old adults … far more advanced in intelligence than a baby, or a toddler who barely speaks a language everyone understands … will become like infants and children when we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
The Big Brain Syndrome we all possess will be healed and we will stop thinking we know some stuff, so that out of our newborn mouths will come wisdom and understanding never experienced or learned before.
If you have not been ordained by Christ to serve God, you have not yet allowed God to place his grace upon you – where “grace” means his favor or kindness, as a gift of his Spirit. If your inner child has not yet returned to the forefront of your being, the Lord’s grace is still missing.
We cannot hear wisdom’s call when we think we must learn how to be righteous. We cannot fathom the meaning of Scripture until our brain’s humming becomes quiet enough to hear understanding’s voice raised.
Psalm 8 hits the nail on the head as to why Jesus called his disciples “little children.” John wrote the Greek word “teknia,” which is plural for “little children,” but the use of “children” to adults implies a deep love for someone, as endearment.
That deep love figuratively stated is the inner child, where the soul lies. The soul is God’s breath placed within flesh, bones, and blood – matter – giving life to dead matter. While the physical goes through many changed states, the soul is forever young.
The quest of our religion is to release our souls so they praise the majesty of God, from a source that comes from “above the heavens.” Higher than the most distant galaxy detected by the Big Brained Hubble telescope – so high it is undetectable in any state of astrophysics – there is the throne of our Lord.
God calls to us from a metaphysical realm, where the abstract of “higher” is not limited to looking up. “Higher than the heavens” is within, where one’s soul must invite God to come. That invitation is welcomed by God … desired by God.
Solomon’s proverb says God’s call of wisdom raises the voice that says, “To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live.” When we read “all that live,” that is a freed soul that is no longer trapped within a material body … a body of death. “All that live” are those who have been saved and thus understand through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
One who hears that calling is then placed into a most holy discernment process … one that is well beyond what any seminary can teach. Paul tells us what that process is.
Paul wrote, “We are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” He then went on to add: “We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
The word “justified” actually means, “to be made righteous.” In printing terminology, “justified” means centering, so there is an equal margin on the left and the right. That meaning can then also be applied to “being made righteous by faith” where one becomes “centered” because of one’s beliefs, remaining within the boundaries of God’s Law.
Our “faith” is therefore a belief in God and an understanding of the Law of Moses, to a degree that one diligently abides within the structure of that Law. Rather than ‘hanging out’ at the perimeters of the Law, where the Law becomes representative of city walls and tall towers that oversee the forbidden turf outside those boundaries, allowing one to see what one misses by obeying laws, one is “centered” or “justified” by adhering to a lifestyle that is based firmly on belief that following God’s will is an absolute must do. One is then always within the boundaries of the law, even when confronted by sin’s presence.
Of course, purposefully going outside the Law makes one a sinner – by definition – so “justified by faith” means a brain-led first step to serve God by not sinning. To know sin is to know the grace of redemption from sin.
Staying within the lines is not as easy as it seems.
For Paul and the Christians of Rome, who were predominately Jewish, that first step meant, in essence, “Since we have all been devout Jews who religiously stayed within the boundaries of the laws of Moses, we have acted righteously, by Law.
For us Gentiles, who know nothing of the Jewish ways, having only whispers of knowledge of what laws define what a sin is for a Jew, we have made the Ten Commandments our Law. A good first step towards acts of righteousness is to follow those laws that were chiseled in stone.
Like a toddler who first finds its legs and acts by standing and taking steps, the parent stays near to protect the child from a fall. Still, the parent must let the child learn to walk by walking on its own. Therefore, once one has taken the steps that display righteousness by faith, then “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The “peace of the Lord” is a “peace of mind,” where the original root word in Greek, “eirō,” means “to join, tie together in a whole.” We are joined in our acts by the confidence of the Holy Spirit. Our acts of faith have won us a union “with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
From that stance of calm, where our little baby minds have nothing to add, which would confuse our thoughts and bring forth misconceptions about sins and righteousness, we can then “boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” This is why God is with us – to share him with others. God’s presence makes an apostle “boast,” which means holding one’s head high with God-given confidence, to proclaim hope is available for all of faith.
This boasting so others can find hope leads to persecution – “Who are you that makes you better than me?” is the initial and immediate response.
People who claim to have faith react with disbelief. They want to pick up stones to hurl at one proclaiming loudly … boastfully … “Listen to me! I have the Lord with me!”
We saw that last week when we remembered the day of Pentecost, when the immediate reaction by the crowd of pilgrims was to call the apostles drunks … filled with the spirits of new wine at 9 AM.
Still, the apostles were not deterred, as they had endurance. Each apostle gave more testimony of understanding, spoken by the Holy Spirit, through their mouths having tongues like fire. The Words of the Lord were burning hot and had to come out.
Peter’s explanation of their ability having been prophesied by Joel gave them character … that of a respected prophet of Israel.
From that ability to see Peter and his apostolic companions in the light of prophets of the Lord, the people’s hearts and minds were opened. They saw and heard the product of their words … words they all knew as devout Jews, but never knew like this before … hope appeared before them like ripe fruit on a vine … wisdom ready to be picked.
Here … behold the fruit of the Word is ripe and sweet … so pick it as your own and savor the meaning as only possible through the power of God.
The ordination of 3,000 apostles took place that day, as they grasped that hope and saw the acts of their faith had been seen as righteousness, worthy of the peace of the Lord, through belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Priests for the One God should be this happy they are now his commissioned officers.
They heard wisdom’s call and understanding was raised within them. They heard God’s cry being to all who seek eternal life through the Advocate of Jesus Christ. They heeded that calling and were ordained.
Those Jewish pilgrims found out what Peter and his Galilean partners had found out. They all found out what you too can find out. That is stated in what Jesus said to his disciples [paraphrased]: “When the Holy Spirit of truth comes, you will not speak your own thoughts, but those that you hear within your heart; so you will speak what the Holy Spirit declares, whatever that will be coming to you.”
Whatever it will be that comes out of a new apostle’s mouth, you can count on it being for the benefit of others of faith to hear.
Faith alone is not enough, because faith without understanding serves God in a house of cards … a castle built on sand. Faith requires the peace of the Lord, through our Savior Jesus Christ, as the grace that empowers us to stand before any and all and boast of the power and glory of God Almighty.
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