“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” – Matthew 5:17

Readings

Jeremiah 31:27-40 · Matthew 5:13-26 · Psalm 33:1-11

Sermon

The “Law” is summed up in the Commandments, which were given from Sinai and were called the “covenant” with the children of Israel.

In Leviticus we read: “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them… I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.”

There are passages in both the Old and New Testaments which have been interpreted to imply that the commandments will sometime be suspended or outgrown and other laws will take their place. Those who take this view call attention to the fact that Jeremiah tells of a time when the Lord will make a new covenant with His people: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord,” and that the Lord says, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time… But I say unto you…”

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“Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.” – Deuteronomy 5:12

Readings

Deuteronomy 5:1-12 · Matthew 12:1-13 · Psalm 147

Sermon

In determining what ought to be done and what ought not to be done on the sabbath, the purposes of this day should be kept in mind. Each one must make this decision for himself when he reaches adulthood. On one occasion Jesus reminded the Pharisees of their own practice. If a sheep fell into a pit on the sabbath, would they not pull him out? How much better is a man than a sheep?

In determining how the sabbath should be kept, we should not look to self-desires, temporary pleasures, or apparent financial gain, but to the Word of God which, when rightly understood, is the true light of life.

It is written that the Lord made the universe in six days and rested on the seventh; wherefore He sanctified it. So man should do his work in six days and rest upon the seventh. Yet the fact that the world was not made in six literal days is sufficient to suggest that there is a meaning involved within the letter. What does rest mean?

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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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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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“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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“Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.” – Psalm 132:8

Readings

Deuteronomy 32:1-12 · John 4:1-14 · Psalm 132

Sermon

David longed to “find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.” The temple in Jerusalem was, however, built by his son Solomon. And we read further on in the Psalm, “The Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest forever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.”

The dwelling place of the Lord was considered the same as that of the ark, wherein were kept the two tables of stone on which were written the ten commandments. The ark went before the Israelites on their journeys through the wilderness. Spiritually it is the ark which we must follow on our journey, in which we go up from the Egypt of worldly knowledge to our spiritual homes. That is to say, the commandments are a summary of our duty to the Lord and to our fellow men, and are a sure guide to eternal happiness. Moreover, they are a covenant, a bond of union between the Lord and mankind. Obedience to them is obedience to the Lord. In keeping them we hearken to the Lord’s voice, shunning the evils that they forbid, not from fear of punishment but because they are sins against God. The commandments are a covenant, an essential part of the relationship between us and our Heavenly Father. The sincerity of our worship is measured by our keeping of these laws.

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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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