“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Matthew 6:21

Readings

Deuteronomy 8 · Matthew 25:1-30 · Psalm 5

Sermon

If we are not instructed as to the effect of our life here upon the spirit, it may seem harsh to hear it said that repentance after death is impossible, that once in hell forever there.

That Jesus should have said of those who had not received the stranger nor fed the hungry nor visited the sick, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment” seems incredible to some. The sentence is too severe, ill-proportioned to the sin of omission, they say. And we are familiar with the argument that God, who is just and merciful, would not afflict one with everlasting punishment for the sins that could be committed in this short life. Eternal punishment for a few years of evil living? There is no ratio between any fixed time and eternity. How unjust, severe, unmerciful the punishment would be!

And so it would be if consignment to hell for sin were a decree of the Lord in punishment. It is true that the Word speaks of the Lord as punishing and casting into hell, as never changing His judgment and never repenting. But such expressions in the letter were reflections of human states, ideas, and customs and were permitted that those in evil might be checked and turn to better ways. They are not in the letter genuine truths, but express truth as it appears to the natural and uninstructed mind. The Lord is pure mercy, pure forgiveness, increasing love. Any other representation of God is an adaptation to those who have not yet risen to any interior idea of Him or who think of Him as seen when we are in opposition to Him. The Lord sends no one to the realm of the lost. He is pure mercy and love. He exerts all His power to lift everyone into heaven.

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“Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 3:2

Readings

Zechariah 13:1-9 · Matthew 3:1-17 · Psalm 48

Sermon

We know that heaven is not in some remote part of the natural sky; that we cannot say of it, “Lo, here, or Lo, there.” But still we are apt to think of it as far away. We are also inclined to think of heaven as remote in time. We speak commonly of the future world. In the thought of some it lies at the indefinitely remote time when they expect a general resurrection. With others death is the gateway to heaven, and still it seems too distant to be of much present and practical interest.

But the truth is that heaven is far away neither in space nor in time. It is here and now. We live in it now, or may do so. It is a present reality, the most real and most important element of the life which we are now living. When we speak of heaven and living for heaven, we are not necessarily setting our hearts on something far away and despising the life in which we now are. One might live for a far-off heaven, and no doubt some have lived so, careless of this world’s joys or sorrows or opportunities for usefulness, their eyes fixed on some vision of the future. But we may live for heaven and still live thoroughly in the present. We may value heaven – and they who have some true knowledge of heaven ought so to value it – as the most real of present realities.

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“I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” by Louis A. Dole

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“I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” – Luke 12:50

Readings

Isaiah 40:1-11 · Luke 12:41-59 · Psalm 111

Sermon

These words were spoken early in the Lord’s ministry. They express the purpose of His coming into the world. Baptism with water represents the cleansing of the outward life, applying the “water of life,” the teachings of the Lord’s Word, to the child as he grows to keep his heart and character free from what can defile, as water keeps the body clean. If this is done, the way is prepared and the path made straight for the entrance of the Lord into the soul, keeping evil away.

The text expresses the fact that there is disagreement between the internal and the external man, and that therefore there must be temptation combats before the disagreement can be removed and internal peace restored.

The verse preceding and the verse following the text read, “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?” and “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.”

It is of this conflict between the internal and the external man that our text teaches. We seek to make our outer lives appear well before people’s eyes – we teach our children to observe the outward forms of courtesy and honest behavior – but the real task is to instill into the heart right principles, that when the children grow up, they may live and speak the truth from a spirit of charity.

Our Lord said that He had a baptism to be baptized with and that He was straitened until it should be accomplished. The Greek word translated “straitened” means “distressed.” That is, He must apply the truths of the Divine life to His natural life and character until everything imperfect was put out and the natural tendencies of the human He had assumed from Mary were completely cleansed of everything that was opposed to the Divine within This is what “straitened” Him or brought to Him the pain of labor and effort.

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“And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.” – Luke 1:14

Readings

Zechariah 1:1-17 · Luke1:1-17 · Psalm 37:1-11

Sermon

We are now in the Advent season. The words of our text were spoken of John the Baptist, the promised forerunner of the Lord. He is one of the striking figures in the Bible story. His father Zacharias was a priest offering incense in the temple at the very time when a son was promised to him. Elizabeth, his wife, was of the daughters of Aaron. Both were devout, walking in the commandments of the Lord and waiting for the fulfillment of His promise to Israel.

John was given in fulfillment of the prophecies in Isaiah and Malachi. The angel who appeared to Zacharias and spoke the words of our text said: “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.” Zacharias doubted the angel’s message and was struck dumb until his son was born. Then his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed and, filled with the Holy Spirit, he spoke the “Benedictus,” “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel…” which we use every Sunday in our worship.

John’s message was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It was a message that the heart and life should be changed, and that mere formal righteousness would no longer be tolerated. John’s active ministry was very short. He was born six months before the Lord. A single verse, “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel,” covers the whole period between his birth and his ministry, and he was beheaded by Herod some little time before the Lord’s crucifixion. But his short ministry was an active one – calling the people to repent and keep the commandments, and baptizing them in Jordan. He said of himself, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.” He fulfilled this prophecy. It is the Word itself that prepares the Lord’s way both into the church and into the human mind, bringing joy and gladness.

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“Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things?” by Louis A. Dole

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“Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?
“And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me:
“The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? – Luke 20:2-5

Readings

Isaiah 40:1-11 · Luke 20:1-18 · Psalm 37:1-22

Sermon

It is well known that to acquire an understanding of any art, science, or profession requires much labor and study. No one would expect to become a mathematician, a doctor, or a teacher without years of study and discipline. Yet many feel that religion should require no effort or study.

When the Lord was teaching in the temple, the priests and scribes came to Him and asked, “By what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?” This is a very searching question and points to the source and origin of all religion. The Lord “answered and said unto them… The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?”

The Lord did nothing by chance. His every word and deed had purpose and wisdom back of it. He was not merely trying to silence the priests and scribes. An answer to the second question was necessary to the answering of the first.

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