Part of a Sermon by Pastor John, February 18, 2012
It is an understatement just to say that God has highly exalted His Son. God has glorified him above the heavens and given him a name above every name! God has exalted His Son so much that if His Son has baptized you with the life of God, then that’s all the baptism God ever wants you to have, because that is the only baptism that honors His Son. To honor the Son as God does is to feel that the Son’s kind of circumcision, the invisible circumcision, the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit is so wonderful that you don’t want any other kind of circumcision. To honor the Son the way God does means that you think that the Son’s kind of communion, fellowship with God, is so wonderful that you don’t want any other kind of communion. To honor the Son the way God does means that you think that the Son’s baptism of your spirit by the holy Ghost is so wonderful that you don’t want any other kind of baptism. To honor the Son as God does is to know that you do not need a ceremonial “outward expression of an inward experience”, for you become the outward expression of that inner work of God. When we esteem the Son’s spiritual garments of praise to be so good and holy that we do not need choir robes, we are honoring the Son as God honors him.
Oh, to honor Jesus in a way that pleases the Father! That is the value of the truth. The truth enlightens us as to how to honor Jesus as the Father has honored him, the way those without the Spirit cannot do, the way that no Christian ceremony has ever done! God has visited us and anointed our eyes to see how foolish and vain religious ceremonies are. At the same time, He has given us great compassion for those who practice them. When God anoints you to see that water baptism is nothing, with that anointing comes the power to love the people who carry out that ritual the way He loves them. You cannot love people the way God loves them until you see them the way He sees them. How vain their efforts to serve Him in the flesh are! But when you see it, the truth begins to hurt your heart for people the way it hurts the heart of God.
I remember, years ago, when God began to reveal the truth to Brother Jim Gregory, when the eye salve was still wet on his eyes, he began to feel a pain that he had never felt before. He talked to me about it one evening, and I told him, “Brother Jim, that is ‘the burden of the Lord’. You’re beginning to feel the way God feels for people.” Only the knowledge of the truth brings that kind of compassion into the heart.
We were up in Montreal not long ago, visiting a shrine, the largest shrine to St. Joseph in the world, I believe. It was a huge complex, very impressive. You had to go up three or four long escalators to get to the sanctuary. And in the prayer room, they had maybe a thousand little red candles on this side – for five-dollar prayers. If you couldn’t afford that, they had a thousand or so smaller candles for one-dollar prayers. Oh, to watch a young mother there, kneeling before that big image of Joseph, lighting a candle, with her child, praying about something; hurting about something! How that grieved my spirit. That poor mother was longing for something from Jesus and thinking that’s what she had to do in order to receive it. She could have stayed home and touched his heart, but she didn’t know it. She didn’t know Jesus is that good, or that accessible.
Oh, God, what has religious ceremony done to people’s hearts and minds! I watched her climb up those stairs and reach up into the place where she could get some “holy” water, put it on her forehead, and then light a candle. And there were others there doing the same thing.
Do we have the faith to leave off ceremony and trust in Jesus as if he really is the only way to eternal life? We are saved by grace through faith in him! And not through Joseph, Mary, or any other dead saint. “There is one mediator between God and men – the man, Christ Jesus.” And Jesus our Mediator sent us the holy Ghost to take his place. The pope is not the vicar of Christ; the holy Ghost is the vicar of Christ, and it makes you a vicar of Christ. Paul said, “We beseech you, in Christ’s stead.” Paul was a vicar of Christ. Did not Jesus say, “You’re the light of the world”?
Then, may God help us to shine, and not to charge people five dollars, one dollar – any dollar – to minister to them, but to give them a dollar if they need one. Just through a life of holiness and faith, we can do our part in this world. That is being a light in a dark place. Rejoice in what Jesus has made you! Be thankful! You will be undervalued by everybody whose eyes have not been anointed yet, but you are precious to God! Oh, God! Save us from the influence of this foolish world, and let us finish our work and do our part.