“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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“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever,” by Louis A. Dole

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“The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” – Isaiah 40:6-8

Readings

Isaiah 40:1-17 · John 10:1-18 · Psalm 103:8-18

Sermon

Today there are those who say, “All flesh is grass. What is man that God is mindful of him? We die like the beasts of the field. The rocks crumble, all flesh perishes, the sun will in time burn out, and omnipresent death will reign.”

And so from the changes which occur in the outer stratum of creation man reasons that there is no inner enduring creation, that there is no stable realm of everlasting life. We pass on. Our places are quickly filled.

But why does anyone believe these merely seeming truths? Our text tells us the reality: “The word of our God shall stand for ever.” There is a deeper meaning to the words “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth.” The grass is a lower form of vegetation, the first to spring out of the ground, and the basis of animal life. The first truths that come to us are like the grass. They are the basis of more vital things because they are external facts upon which interior things depend and rest. The grass is created before the herbs, the blade before the ear. And the flowers? They are spiritual truths unfolded in their beauty. It is the desert of the mind that the Lord promises shall blossom as the rose. So is pictured the soul of man beautified with spiritual truths.

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“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” – John 14:6

Readings

Isaiah 30:1-17 · John 14:1-17 · Psalm 43

Sermon

The fourteenth chapter of John contains some of the most striking statements concerning the Lord to be found in the Scriptures, and in it the Lord revealed Himself more freely to His disciples than He had done in any of His previous conversations with them.

One of these statements is, “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.” Jesus here places Himself on an equality with God, and demands the same belief in Him as that which men should direct to God. But although He is God and God alone, He here makes a distinction between God and Jesus, or between the Father and the Son. This distinction is a most important one, as our Lord plainly teaches. He said to His disciples, “Ye believe in God.” Why ask them to do more? It was because though they believed in God, yet they were in darkness and not in light. They were in doubt, obscurity, and fear. He told them that if they would believe in Him, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, would come, who would lead them in the paths of peace. If they would believe in Jesus as they believed in God, they would be brought out of bondage and dwell in the Promised Land.

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“He said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other,” by Louis A. Dole

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“He said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.” – Luke 6:10

Readings

Joshua 1:1-18 · Luke 6:1-16 · Psalm 37:1-11

Sermon

At best the living God is a dim reality to us in comparison to what He might be. In its childhood humanity was near to God. They of most ancient times felt His presence operating in them. They were conscious that His love in their hearts was from Him. Their intelligence was the light from the love that was within. The two worlds that are within us were then in harmony. The natural world reflected the spiritual world within. It awakened the higher life of the soul, and opened the spiritual paradise where they communed with God.

They saw, when the clouds yielded their moisture, how their God revived and nourished them from His Spirit by the doctrine that dropped as the rain and the speech that distilled as the dew, like the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass. The wind that bloweth where it listeth was to them the spirit of God enriching the heart. The first rays of the rising sun as they came streaming in over the horizon were to them a vivid symbol of how they received within them the light of intelligence from heaven’s sun. As the sun rose full and clear, driving back the darkness of night to usher in a new day, they thought of the glories of another and higher world than this which the sun of righteousness ushered in, and for which they were preparing, and they felt new vigor. Nature, the unwritten Word of God, was to them a living language through which heaven spoke. In that spiritual Garden of Eden God walked and talked with them, and they were near to Him.

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The Finger of God, by Louis A. Dole

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“Two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” – Exodus 31:18

Readings

Exodus 31 · Matthew 23:1-12 · Psalm 25

Sermon

The conception of God as being “without body, parts, or passions” makes Him utterly unknowable. Such expressions as “life force” and “God is spirit” lead to depersonalization and render the concept of God nebulous, indefinite, and without practical meaning.

This attitude is adopted as a result of the thought that to give form and substance to God is to make Him like ourselves, which would be to degrade Him, but this thought is itself without foundation. It is true that God as He is in Himself – the Absolute, the Infinite, and the Eternal – is beyond our comprehension. The finite mind can never compass the Infinite. So it is written, “No man hath seen God at any time,” “There shall no man see me and live,” and in the writings “The Divine is above all thought and is entirely incomprehensible to angels.” But God is nevertheless a Person. We should not think of the physical body as the thing that makes a man. The body is but the expression in matter of the powers and faculties of the soul, which is the man. And we are not left in darkness as to the Person of God, for God has accommodated the revelation of Himself to our need, and gives the assurance “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

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“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” – John 17:3

Readings

Isaiah 38:1-16 · John 17:1-17 · Psalm 51:1-11

Sermon

In the church year the second Sunday in Advent is designated as “Bible Sunday.” In the opening chapter of the book of Revelation we read: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep the things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”

No man is wise who does not believe in God. A man’s idea of God may be confused, but however confused it is, he does not trust entirely in himself, but looks to One outside of himself as the source of life, power, and blessing.

Our text tells us that a knowledge of God is essential to eternal life. And we are also commanded: “Search the scriptures; for… they are they which testify of me.”

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“What think ye of Christ?” by Louis A. Dole

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“What think ye of Christ?” – Matthew 22:42

Readings

Isaiah 25 · Matthew 22:34-46 · Psalm 33

Sermon

This text follows the Lord’s answer to the Pharisees who, seeking to tempt Him, asked, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus answered,

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“This is the first and great commandment,
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Love to God and love to man are the sum of all revelation and the essence of all religion. As are the heart and lungs to the body, these two commandments are the vital principles on which the life of all the other parts depends. All other precepts spring from them and return to them again.

But why did the Lord follow this statement with the question, “What think ye of Christ?” and then point out that David called Him Lord? Who is this God who should be the primary object of our love? This is not an academic question, something to be debated by theologians in their ivory towers. If we do not know our God and His nature and purposes, how are we to know what we should love? On the church’s concept of God depends its very existence.

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“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things,” by Louis A. Dole

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“I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me:
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” – Isaiah 45:5, 7

Readings

Isaiah 45:1-13 · John 1:1-14 · Psalm 91

Sermon

These words have been often quoted, and they have been both misunderstood and misused. The Lord is the origin and source of all life. There is no other life than that which comes from Him. He declares, “I am … the life.” There are no existences that are not dependent upon Him: without Him nothing would be. He is the universal Creator, the Maker of heaven and earth and all which pertains to them. Hence when He says, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil,” we feel that these statements logically follow from the primal fact that the Lord is the Life, the only source of existence. So men reason in this way: Everything that exists owes its existence to the Lord; evil exists in the world; therefore evil owes its existence to the Lord. The reasoning seems conclusive.

And yet to appearance it makes the Lord the author of evil. Seemingly it throws upon Him the responsibility for evil and for the suffering that flows from it. The natural man likes this. He likes to escape responsibility. He likes to feel and say when a wrong has been done, “Another did it.” And if by arguing that the primary origin of evil is with the Lord men can find a way to escape the responsibility for their own willing and doing, there seem to be many who are ready to avail themselves of the opportunity. They say, “There is no justice in my suffering for what I cannot help. I am not responsible for my inclinations to do wrong. Why should I struggle and fight against them? I am not responsible for the conditions in which I find myself; so I am not responsible for escaping from these conditions.”

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“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son,” by Louis A. Dole

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“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” – Revelation 21:7

Readings

Zechariah 8:1-17 · Revelation 21:1-14 · Psalms 8; 9

Sermon

We have entered upon that period of the church year called Lent, which marks the Lord’s final struggles and victory.

Two sharply contrasted ideas of man’s nature have prevailed throughout the Christian world. Man is said to be created in the image and likeness of God, a little lower than God, and to have been given dominion over all things. And again he is pictured as conceived in iniquity and born in sin, accounted of as nothing before God, and of himself nothing but evil.

Both sides of this picture are true, for there is a dual nature in everyone, which must be recognized. We recall that to each of the seven churches in Asia the promise was made that to “him that overcometh” some particular blessing would be given; and we are all familiar with the Lord’s words to Nicodemus: “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

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“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water,” by Louis A. Dole

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“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” – Jeremiah 2:13

Readings

Jeremiah 2:1-13 · Revelation 22 · Psalm 81

Sermon

The second chapter of Jeremiah tells how men departed from their primitive state in which they trusted in the Lord and were defended from falsities and evils. The decline began when they rejected the Lord’s guidance, making up rules of life for themselves, substituting for the Divine Laws laws hatched from the natural reason.

The Sacred Scriptures teach everywhere that human life and all life depends upon God. Every created thing is a recipient of life from God, who is Life Itself. People have tried to explain man and the universe apart from God, but this irrational attempt introduces a fundamental error into the science and art of living. Or it is sometimes assumed that, although there is a God who works in His universe, He cannot be known, and consequently men can have no conscious part in the carrying out of His purposes. This idea leads to determinism and a belief in predestination, which means that every act of man is impelled by some internal necessity, and that knowledge of God and His purposes is not required of him because to think and feel and behave other than he does is impossible.

But we live in no such world as that. The Divine plan does not contemplate mere puppets in human form, but instead conscious and intelligent cooperation with our Creator in establishing the kingdom of God among men.

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