“Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” by Louis A. Dole

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“Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” – Luke 10:25

Readings

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 · Matthew 19:16-30 · Psalm 16

Sermon

The terms “everlasting life” and “eternal life” sometimes are used to mean the same – that is, life without end – but there is a difference in some cases.

Everyone has everlasting life, for the evil as well as the good live forever in the spiritual world after the death of the body. No one need ask “What shall I do to inherit everlasting life” for everyone is sure to have it. But to inherit eternal life is altogether different.

No short definition of eternal life can be made that carries to another its real meaning because it involves so much. Eternal life is life directly from God, the kind of life that is in God. But for such a definition to have meaning one must know at least something of the quality of life that is in God. It is like asking “What is sunlight?” Sunlight is indeed light directly from the sun, but such a definition does not tell us exactly what sunlight is.

With the Lord there is no such thing as time. A thousand years are as a day in His sight. The angels have no idea of time. Think of an angel four thousand years old. He does not think of years, for he is merely four thousand years advanced in the love and wisdom of the Lord. So eternal life means a life of continual increase in God’s life, a life that contains unlimited unfolding of the glory of God.

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“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” – Deuteronomy 4:2

 Readings

Deuteronomy 4:1-9 · Revelation 22 · Psalm 19

Sermon

We are all familiar with the fact that the Bible closes with the warning not to add to or to take away from the words of the Book. But perhaps we are not so familiar with the fact that this same direct command was given very early in the Bible story, in the verse we have just read.

It was once very generally believed that God created man for His own glory, and for the purpose of ruling over men and of receiving praise from them. Such a concept still persists, although the Lord tells us that He came not to be ministered unto but to minister. Yet there is a sense in which we should praise the Lord, for true praise is gratitude to Him for His many mercies and benefits to us, and this is necessary as a check to our natural tendency to attribute wisdom and goodness to ourselves.

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“Take heed, and beware of covetousness,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Take heed, and beware of covetousness.” – Luke 12:15

Readings

Micah 2 · Luke 12:1-21 · Psalm 103:1-18

Sermon

The commandments are a summary of the Divine laws for angels and for men. They were given by the voice of the Lord from Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai rises abruptly from a large plain about twelve miles long, large enough for the encampment of all the children of Israel, so they could both see and hear.

The commandments were written on two tables of stone, the first table defining our relation to God and the second our relation to each other. The first table teaches us the necessity of worshiping the true God, and Him alone. We are not to set up false gods of our own imagining. The second table gives the laws necessary to any secure social or civic life, which flow from those on the first table. All of the commandments are necessary to the acquiring and perfecting of a Christian character. For this two things are necessary: a clear and distinct knowledge of what is right, and a conscientious practice of this knowledge. We can have knowledge without practice, and the world is full of examples of this, but we cannot have practice without knowledge.

The command to avoid covetousness is the last of the commandments. To covet means to have an inordinate desire. It does not mean a proper desire for the things we need and do not have, or those things which we do not have which would enable us to perform greater service to others.

If we do not keep this last commandment, we will not keep any of the others. For the only way to keep men from committing sin is to keep them from desiring it in their hearts. We recall that one of Swedenborg’s rules of life was “To be always resigned and content under the dispensation of the Divine Providence.” Man is in very truth judged from his deeds, but no further than insofar and in such a manner as his deeds have proceeded from his will.

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“And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush.” – Deuteronomy 33:16

Readings

Deuteronomy 33:1-16 · Revelation 5 · Psalm 145

Sermon

Moses was nearing the time of his passing into the spiritual world, and after the eastern custom, having called the tribes together, he pronounced a blessing upon each of them. The words of our text form a part of the blessing pronounced upon Joseph as represented by the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.

The blessing of the text must have brought back wonderful memories, for the story of Israel as a nation began with the appearance of the Lord in the burning bush. The Israelites had lived as a subject race in Egypt for over two centuries, and yet had been kept quite distinct from the Egyptians. It is remarkable that the peoples had not wholly mingled, for the very name of Jehovah had been lost during the stay in Egypt. But to Moses in his eightieth year was given the experience at the burning bush. It was then that he heard the command to lead the people to the land promised to their fathers. He at first shrank from the great task, and only when he was convinced by miracles that the Lord would be with him did he undertake it. But he who dwelt in the bush took the people across the sea, fed them in the wilderness, protected them from their enemies, and finally brought them to the borders of the promised land. How difficult had been the way! How often had the people rebelled, and wished that they might go back to Egypt! Even Moses was at times discouraged. But now the journey’s end was being reached, and he had the satisfaction of knowing that his leadership had not been in vain. As he is about to resign his authority to Joshua, he thinks of how the Lord had been with them and had led them all the way, and commends the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh to the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush.

To the Jews Jehovah was invisible; of Him they were not to attempt to make any likeness. Yet, although invisible, they felt that He was God of gods and Lord of lords, and knew that it was He that dwelt in the bush, the bramble. To have appeared in the olive, the vine, or the fig would have seemed more appropriate, but He had been heard from the bush.

In this we have revealed a fundamental truth of religion, that the Lord dwells in the commonest experiences of human life, and happy is he who sees Him there. For as the days and years pass, and as a man passes the threescore years and ten, he will remember the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush.

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“Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forevermore,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forevermore.” – Psalm 37:27

Readings

Isaiah 1:10-20 · Luke 11:29-44 · Psalm 37:23-40

Sermon

These words set forth in briefest form the true order of spiritual growth and progress. The first thing for everyone to do in the work of his regeneration is to depart from evil. Then, and not till then, can he in any genuine sense do good. But the result of his departure from evil is that he is blessed with eternal happiness; in heaven he “dwells forevermore.”

Why is it that the shunning of evil must be the first step in a man’s progress toward heaven? It is because by nature he is inclined to evil. This is his inheritance from his ancestors of many generations. We all find ourselves disposed to be selfish rather than unselfish, and inclined to follow our own unbridled will rather than to listen to the wise counsel of others. Also we are inclined to be proud and self-confident and to ascribe to ourselves the merit of well-doing, rather than to be humble and to give to the Lord His proper place as the center and source of all goodness. We are not born into a state of actual evil or sin, but with tendencies to evil.

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Children’s Sunday, by Louis A. Dole

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Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.” – Exodus 19:5

Readings

Exodus 19:1-9 · Mark 4:1-20 · Psalm 91

Sermon

We are all familiar with the commandments. They are laws that the Lord has given us to teach us how to live. There are laws of nature also which we have to learn. We have to learn that fire is hot and will burn, that there are things that we should not eat, that if we fall we shall get hurt. There are many things that we have to learn if we are to have healthy bodies.

But there are also laws of spirit, which have to do with our souls, and these are more important to us than the laws for the care of our bodies, for our souls we take with us into the other life.

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“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.” – Exodus 13:17

Readings

Exodus 13:14-22 · Matthew 26:31-46 · Psalm 62

Sermon

The distance from northern Egypt, where the Israelites had been dwelling, to Jerusalem, which was to be their future capital, was about two hundred miles by the direct route, whereas the distance by the route they actually traversed was not less than four times as great. The way by the seacoast, which led through the land of the Philistines, was near, but the way through the desert was far; and not only was it far but it was through almost foodless and waterless country. Yet the Lord led the Israelites by that long and difficult way.

The Christian Church has long recognized that the journey from Egypt to Canaan is a type of our preparation for heaven. They think of Egypt as picturing the state of life into which we are born, the love of sensual, selfish, and worldly things; the journey in the wilderness has been dimly seen to be the type of trials which are met with, the crossing of the Jordan the passage from the natural to the spiritual, and the entrance into Canaan the reward and rest of heaven. There is much that is true and helpful in this interpretation, but it overlooks the fact that some of Israel’s hardest battles were fought after they crossed the Jordan, and that it was not until the time of Solomon that the country had rest from war.

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“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off,” by Louis A. Dole

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“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
“It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
“Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
“But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” – Deuteronomy 30:11-14

Readings

Deuteronomy 30:1-14 · Luke 3:1-18 · Psalm 91

Sermon

The Lord gave His Word through the prophets, came into the world, and lived out the Word that men might know the things that are necessary to a heavenly life, and to teach us that the essentials of a good life are neither hard to know and understand nor hard to live. All creation testifies of the Lord and of His purposes for us. Paul writes, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

It is true that life is infinitely complex, that there are depths of meaning in the Word which neither men nor angels can fathom, that we can always find more to learn. But there are fundamental general truths that everyone can learn, understand, and apply. Life should not be a burden; the requirements of a good life are within the reach of all.

The commandments are such simple laws of life. They are not hard to understand nor impossible to keep, but are such as men and women in this world may easily learn and do, if they will.

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“Make thee two trumpets of silver… that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.” – Numbers 10:2

Readings

Numbers 10:1-13 · Revelation 4 · Psalms 98, 99, 100

Sermon

This is one of many laws given through Moses at Sinai which were abrogated as to their literal observance when the Lord came into the world. But being a part of the Word they have a meaning for today and for all future ages.

When the commandments were given at Sinai, there was the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud, signifying that a revelation from the Lord was being given.

Our text speaks of two trumpets made of silver. If both were blown at the same time the people were to assemble before the tabernacle. If but one trumpet was blown, the princes and heads of Israel were to assemble. When an alarm was sounded, the camps on the east were to take up their journey, and at the second sounding the camps on the south. Before going to war they were to blow an alarm on the trumpets, and also on the days of their rejoicings, on their solemn days, and in the beginning of their months.

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“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” – Deuteronomy 4:2

Readings

Deuteronomy 4:1-13 · Revelation 22 · Psalm 40

Sermon

In the church calendar the second Sunday in December is set aside as Bible Sunday. The New Church has distinctive teachings concerning the Word which are much needed at the present time.

The Bible is the Book of Life. This applies equally to the Old Testament and to the New. In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets,” and the Gospel of John begins with the words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” and says, “and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The Lord’s life was the living out of the Word. He said, “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” The Lord who is the Word, whose very life is the life of the Word, could not destroy it. He could not abrogate or deny His own truth. He came as the truth, to manifest Himself to us.

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