"The Holy Spirit Makes Him Known"

 

January 10, 2016: The First Sunday Of Epiphany

The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Isaiah 43: 1 – 7/ Psalm 29 / Acts 8: 14 – 17/ Luke 3: 15 - 17; 21 - 22

 

Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos

 

God is so good! This morning, I woke up and I prayed and thanked God that I am alive! I have an uncle who died two days ago in sleep and I am thankful that I am alive! Sometimes, we are overwhelmed with things we shouldn’t really be focusing on like the negative things and we get carried away with it. I am not saying that we should be in denial, but that we should focus on reality. The reality is that we are more blessed than we think we have the miseries and courses in our lives.   We have a lot more to be thankful for than to complain about.

 

We are still in the “Incarnation fever.”   One day is not enough to fathom the awesome reality of it. In fact, twelve days is not enough. You can try with a lifetime to get an idea of this great event that God did for us. It is meant not just for our fun or for a season or for twelve days, but it is for our joy in eternity as we share it in life with God in Christ. God has reconciled us to Himself. The song says, “Once we were without Christ, strangers to God’s promise, but it was God, in Christ, who brought us back to Him.” God, in Christ, reconciled the world to Himself.

 

Ephesians 1:3 says, “He blessed us with every spiritual blessing from the heavenly places and chose us before the foundation of the world.” It was way before the creation of Adam. It was way before he blew it. It was way before there was a Jew or Greek. God chose us. If you ask me if I believe in predestination, this is it. Predestination is that God chose us before the foundation of the world, before anyone proved himself as a sinner or a saint. By the grace of God, He chose us before the foundation of the world so that we should be holy and blameless; so that we could share in His divine light.

 

The Collect for the second Sunday of Christmas says, “O God, who wonderfully created and yet more wonderfully restored the dignity of human nature, grant that we may share the divine life of Him who partook of our humanity.” God wonderfully made us – He spoke and He molded. When He restored us, He did not just mold. It didn’t take that little effort on His part. When restored us, it required His own life to be back in fellowship with Him. This what makes it a lot more wonderful. He gave His life a ransom for many; and many means all. Scriptures says, “It will be shed for you and for man.” Many meansall.

 

Colossians 1:22 says, “He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless.” It was the same phrase that was used by Paul in Ephesians 1 when he was talking about what our predestination is. God chose our predestination before the foundation of the world for us to be holy and blameless. Somewhere along the way, we blew it and we lost it temporarily; but He has now reconciled us in His fleshly body through death, in order to present before Him, now, holy and blameless. Colossians 1:19-20 says, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself.” Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ is how God had done the reconciliation of humanity to Himself.

 

According to John1, Jesus is the Light that enlightens every man. Each one of us is enlightened by Jesus. As many has received Him and will receive Him, to them, He gave the right to be children of God. To them, He restored sonship. The Canticle entitled “Song of Simeon” out of Luke 2:30-32 says, “Now, O God, let Thy servant depart in peace as You have promised. For my eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou has prepared in the presence of all people.”   In the Book of Common Prayer, it says, “Which Thou has prepared for all the world to see, a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people, Israel.”

 

It is the Father’s will for the summing up of all things in Christ, the Word. Why not? He was the same agent used in creation. By Him, all things were made; apart from Him nothing was made that has come into being. Naturally, the restoration is to be using the same agent as in creation, which is Jesus Christ. In Him, we are restored to God the Father. We have been adopted as sons and the mystery has been made known to us so that we, who are first to hope in Christ, would be to the praise of His glory. “First” indicates that there are others to follow.

 

Acts 3:25-26 says, “In Abraham’s seed all the families of the earth will be blessed.” The promised is that through Abraham, in his seed, which is Christ, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.   Blessing means given life. Verse 26 says, “For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” Luke 24:47 says, “Repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was first; the starting point. The Jews were a chosen people but they were not an exclusive people. They were only the first, beginning from Jerusalem.

 

Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” A Jew, in the spiritual sense of the Bible, is somebody who belongs to the household of God. He is somebody who has the knowledge of God; he is somebody who knows God or has been given the grace to know God and a partaker of God’s promise.   A Gentile is somebody who has not yet received the good news of God grace that they are partakers of themselves, of the promise of God, along with the Jews.

1 Corinthians 15:20 says, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” All are asleep; all of mankind is asleep because of the sin of Adam that entered into the world and death through sin. To be asleep means dead. 1Corinthains 16:15 says, “The household of Stephanas, that they were the first fruits of Achaia.” They were just the first, but were not exclusively the chosen people. They were the beginning because the gospel was to spread in that area, in that city and through all the world. James 1:18 says, in revealing God’s will, “He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” The believers are simply the first of the rest.

 

Romans 8:29 says, “Those He foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to image of Son, so that He would be firstborn among many brethren.” Ephesians 3:6 is the mystery that has been hidden for ages before and is now revealed, “The Gentiles (those who do not know God yet) are to be fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus.” It is not only an exclusive few.   Verse 8, “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.” God’s people, the Church, the Jews, the spiritual Israel, were only the first who were given the grace to first know, but it doesn’t end there.   We are to be a first fruits, but others have to follow, which is God’s will. Maybe, the others are just too slow or they didn’t hear the good news. If they heard it, maybe they did not give it a notice. I have always shared that those who are slow should not be left behind or laughed at. This is because God cares for all of us. People leave others behind because they find them slow to partake of the good. The Provider of the good doesn’t just want us to partake of it, but He also wants the others because the Gentiles are fellow partakers of God’s promise.

 

Jesus confronted the Jews because they thought that they were the only children of God. The attitude of the Pharisee praying at the temple with a tax collector at a distance away from him was, “Lord, thank You that You made me good. You chose me and it is good that I am not like the tax collector.” This is what Jesus confronted so this is why He ate with the tax gatherers and sinners because they were part of God’s will and they are included in God’s desire for all to be blessed. All nations, all families of the earth will be blessed, in Christ, in the seed of Abraham.

 

In Ephesians 3:10, “So that God might now be made known through the church.” The Church is those who were enlightened first. We were chosen by grace not because we are special. We were chosen by grace to be used to reach out to the rest. This is our mission. The Cathedral of the King has been chosen by God to know Him so that she can make Him known. There were those who came ahead of us and we thank them that they reached out to us.

The song says, “Once we were without Christ. Once we were strangers to God’s promise, but it was God, in Christ, who brought us back to Him using somebody who was before us, and we thank God for them.” Let us not abandon this calling. God used people so that we can know Him; but we should not leave others behind for this is our mission too. We are reminded of this in the baptism of Jesus.   Know Him first because you can’t make Him known what you don’t know yourself.

 

Jesus is counting on us to get others to follow and to make Him known. Arise, shine, let your light shine, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon you for a reason which is to make Him known. Let your light shine before men so that they may see your good works, glorify your Father who is in heaven, and return to Him and be reconciled to Him. As sons of God, we need to do this and prove and manifest that we are such to all the world so that God’s love can reach out to them.

 

I would want to call an EDSA Revolution: EDSA means Epifanio De Los Santos; it is the Epiphany of the Saints. It is the manifestation of the saints; the revelation of the sons of God. We need to have that kind of revolution in our lives. We need to show the world the image and likeness of God in us in our good works, in our love, and in our patience. It is not our goodness, but God’s goodness in us – His patience, love, kindness, forgiveness, understanding, humility, obedience, commitment, loyalty, and faithfulness. It is not something that comes from us – those that are negative like bitterness, vengeance, anger, unforgiveness, jealousy, hatred, indifference, rebellion, flakiness, holier/better-than-thou attitude. What we display and demonstrate is God’s nature in us. It is not in our own righteousness, but God’s, in Christ, through the Holy Spirit.

 

I have not focused on the theology of the baptism of the Lord, but on the manifestation of God in the incarnate Christ. This is the same mission we are to fulfill. Jesus fully manifested the invisible God in the flesh and this is our calling, too.   The baptism of the Lord naturally entails our following Him in our desire to please the Father. God was pleased with His beloved Son. Our baptism is our “Amen” to His restoration. Our old self, Adam’s likeness, has now been effaced. We are to demonstrate and manifest that Jesus has stamped His image in its place.

 

The Epiphany hymn that we always sing talks about Jesus making whole palsied limbs and fainting soul. He is manifest in valiant fight, quelling all the devils might. He is manifest in gracious will ever bringing good from ill; not ever magnifying and complaining about the bad, but bringing good out of it. It was a will on His part and it will be a will on our part. It is going to be a choice on our part as well because God causes all things, including the ill (the bad), to work for good. This is why all tribulations, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword can't separate us from the love of God, in Christ. This same love, this same power, this same nature, we also make known and manifest not only as partakers of the divine nature and the promises of God, but also as ambassadors and bringers of good news.

 

Later, we will be sprinkled with the Holy Water which we receive with joy. We must have the joy when we are reminded of our mission – our ordination, our baptism; our participation in His baptism and His ministry. We don’t have our own ministry because His ministry is His work and we simply partake of it as His ambassadors for we are His sons.

 

Let it be said by the Father that He is also pleased with us as we follow after the footsteps of Christ, as we honor God the Father and obey Him and be well-pleasing to Him for this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.

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