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When you understand anything in scripture, it is love that manifests itself in you, when you fail to understand, it is love that is hiding itself from you.

St. Augustine, Sermon 350

If you become a lawyer. I'll hang you from the gallows. You must become a preacher and must baptize, preach, administer the sacrament, visit the sick, and comfort the sorrowful.

Martin Luther, Table Talk - comments made to his young son.

Oh Lord, let that become possible to me by Thy grace, which by nature seems impossible.

Thomas á Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

The person who wishes to attain right views about Christian holiness, must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin. A person must dig down very low if they are to build high.

J. C. Ryle, Holiness

... to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fearing holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 1.72-2.7

It's easy for Christians to think that commands of God given in the Old Testament that root His people in history only apply to the Jews. Nothing could be further from the truth. The New Testament is just as concerned about history as any other part of the Bible. Unlike the religions of India that are grounded in the practice of various types of yoga and thus in pure experience, biblical faith is founded upon historical events that become real within the individual's experience. Without a living experience of God these stories may be fairly remote and meaningless. Nevertheless, they are the one of the foundations for the faith of the believer without which Christian experience would be one type of psychological drama alongside many others.

Together the story of God's great deeds and the Christian's experience of similar deeds of grace in daily life makes Christianity quite different from the numerous new religions that lure members with promises of spiritual experiences. Christianity is a historical religion and the Bible repeatedly tells us that we are to remember that fact because it sets our faith apart from numerous other faiths that would otherwise tempt us to worship the idols of this world.

Day:7 - 8 - 9

These readings are based on a) John E. Rotelle O.S.A's., excellent Augustine Day by Day, (New York, Catholic Book Publishing, 1986). Permission to use these passages has been sought, although I believe what I have used falls within a "fair use" policy; b) Various works of Martin Luther (1483-1546); c) Thomas á Kempis (1380-1471); d) Anglican Bishop J. C. Ryle's (1816-1900) Holiness (18??) or Practical Religion (1900); e) Zondervan's New International Version of the Bible.

Copyright Irving Hexham 2001