Monday, June 9, 2014

A call to thought, reason, and faith by the Holy Spirit who gives us these abilities


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“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26

By every intelligent measure it seems that we’ve entered a new Dark Age. Not only are the pure doctrines and the sacred traditions of the church under heavy assault, but so is our ability to think. It shouldn’t surprise us that these things are disappearing all together because faith and reason come from the same source – the Holy Spirit whom the Father sent in Jesus’ name to teach us all things and remind us of all that Jesus said.

Life in the future may be much harder than it’s ever been before, not because men are more evil today than in former times; sinful nature never changes, but as a result of technology in the hands of people who don’t think and don’t have the Scriptures as their Teacher. In the past it took some effort to kill and maim large numbers of people. A major military campaign under Alexander the Great took years to plan, equip, finance and execute. Today it takes little more than the push of a button. In the past it was easy to avoid other people if you were having a bad day, or if you just didn’t like people that much. But today it’s not so easy. There are cameras everywhere. They watch us as we shop, they write us electronic tickets if we drive too fast, and if you go to Milwaukee beware! The entire city is wired, every inch of it. You can’t go anywhere in public without being observed, and the Surveillance State is positively giddy. How long will it be before such things are used against us by the world, if we want a share of the shallow peace that it offers?

God’s people have always thanked and praised Him for giving His Spirit to be our Holy Teacher. Pentecost is one of the church’s oldest holy days. But life being what it is, we can be doubly thankful today that Jesus gave us this incomparable gift, and that by His power our sins are forgiven, and that even in the middle of life’s storms we are at peace with God through Christ.

He gives us the gift of faith in baptism and nourishes it through the church’s ministry, but the church has largely given up her birthright and caved in to the sensibilities of modern man. The church has always conducted her ministry in a rational way. Thought, order, congruity and consistency have always been her way. She has a long and glorious history of raising men up from their base desire to remain ignorant, to the glory that faith and knowledge give. But today ignorance is worshiped in the church as well as in the world, and intellect dashed to the ground. Nor do people want to hear about sin today, so the church has dumbed-down and lightened-up. When she does venture to speak on the topic it’s usually about “social sins” such as contributing to global warming, which is no sin at all. Or “collective sins” such as injustice, that whiny term which means whatever a person wants it to mean on any given day. But the real trespasses condemned by the Law such as envy, self-pity, infanticide and the worship of false gods dare not be mentioned. The church is much happier today, better-attended and better paid-for if she confirms people in their ignorance and doesn’t demand that they think very hard. But unless we learn God’s Word, unless we can get from theological Point A, to theological Point B, how will we ever know our sins, retain the Peace that Jesus gives, or live out our vocations in joyful service to God and man?

We say in the Third Article of the Creed, “I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel…” We say it because Faith is the Spirit’s best gift, but not His only gift. We also say in the First Article that He gives us the ability to think. Remember the words, “my reason and all my senses?” Why did God do that? Why did He make us, “a little lower than the angels,” (Psalm 8:5) but much higher, and of far greater worth than plants or animals? Because we, as opposed to the animals, are created in the image and likeness and God, who is above all things rational! And the only way we can know Him, believe in Him, and have fellowship with Him is by using both the faith and the intellect He’s given us.

Believing doesn’t supplant thinking. Instead, faith is the highest form of thought there is. To believe in Jesus as our Savior means to think divine thoughts, to have the very mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and to know God even as we are known by Him. (1 Corinthians 13:12) So never let a Christian glorify ignorance, because there’s nothing foolish or simple about God. (1 Corinthians 12:1) The devil, on the other hand, loves ignorance. His followers are more anxious to kill the Holy Spirit than they were to kill Jesus. They work day and night to extinguish the Divine Light that He gives, to make us forget Pentecost, to create a new Dark Age and call it Enlightenment. They’ve been very successful so far, and the conversion from thinking people to emoting people is nearly complete in our day.

We see it so clearly in the political realm. It’s not the job of a Supreme Court Justice to have empathy, but to think. To use cold, calculating reason. To take the words of the Constitution and to dictate from On High that they say what they mean, and mean what they say. Why? Because no authority exists except that which is established by God, and with God A is always A, and there can be no inconsistencies.

Whenever we make important decisions based on emotion rather than reason, we suffer. We lose many of the earthly blessings that God has in store for us, and life which is already difficult becomes that much more painful. We begin to wonder if there’s any rhyme or reason to life. We question whether there really is a God in heaven who loves us and who has a bright future planned for us in Christ. But God gave us a Great and Wonderful gift when he “poured out” His Spirit on Pentecost. Besides being a Holy Spirit, He’s always a Tireless Spirit. He works day and night, through the Church, to keep faith and reason alive. By His power: old men still dream the dreams of God, and young Confirmands still see visions of His love and glory that awaits us in Christ. And it’s this Spirit, and the gift of faith and reason that He gives, that makes the Church, and not America or any other nation, the Shining City On A Hill. By her light the Holy Spirit calls out to all who are ignorant so that they can come and learn the Truth as it’s never been taught before to all who are at the end of their rope so that they might learn that God is our Refuge and Strength and very present Helper in trouble; to all who are afraid of life and afraid of death to know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life Everlasting, who brings us to the Father, and gives us Peace both now and always. Amen.

~Rev. Dean Kavouras

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