To Save Us All From Satan’s Power

Dismay is a condition we are prone to dwell in during these dark and evil days. The world and its uncertainty would be the “usual culprit,” but more often than not, the source of our dismay is from inside the Church. It seems that entire church bodies from the Church of England, Roman Catholics, (Dis)United Methodists, and everyone else in between are tearing themselves apart over matters quite clear from the plain letter of Sacred Scriptures.

Yet those same Sacred Scriptures speak of “tidings of comfort and joy,” specifically the angelic greeting surprising the shepherds one cold Bethlehem night, heralding, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Those words alone should give us much to rejoice, despite those within the Church who wish to shackle believers to the zeitgeist of the world. The angelic proclamation comes from our Creator and the news is good

The news did not have to be good, for we are justly condemned.

And yet the news heard by Angels from on high is good. Good news, in other words, the Gospel, that truly turns our sadness into great joy – a joy not limited to the Jewish people but is “for all people” because the Jewish Messiah is the Savior of the world. God has entered into the world, or as C.S. Lewis once put it, the playwright has entered on stage. His entrance is not grand, but is as though He walked into the middle of a scene change and suddenly, there He is.

Why has the Lord God become one of His creatures?

To save us all from Satan’s power, when we had gone astray.

We live in an age of dismay and likely within the greater denomination or communion where we belong, are many who are gone astray. Sadly, many are being led astray by wolves in albs and surplices alike, because they do not ground their trust upon the One who was born of the virgin Mary. These wolves, in the name of relevancy, attempt to remake the church – truly they attempt to negate the rebirth in Christ and deform the Church to reflect the old man – the world, the flesh, and the devil. They prescribe various prescriptions but fail to have the right diagnosis because they have erased sin as a disease from their textbooks. These novel and new prescriptions always have the same flavor: check what is trending and reformulate the Church. They attempt to transgender the Church from the bride of Christ to a groom of Satan and end up neutering the faith of the flock. The answer is not to move the ancient landmark and “rebrand” ancient doctrine for a new age, for that is the playbook for those under Satan’s power. No, we need to recalibrate with the God who became enfleshed, and to do so, we return to Scripture. For we hear the Gospel of Christmas morn through the Scriptures and there is where we hear and read of glad tidings of comfort and joy. However, reading Scripture is only the beginning. We must do more than hear the words from the Word, we should not merely read the ink, we are commanded by the Collect from the Second Sunday in Advent to mark, learn, and inwardly digest them.

Ezekiel the Prophet and John the Seer were told to eat and did inwardly digest scrolls with the Word of Wisdom, while Jeremiah poetically spoke of inwardly digesting the Lord’s words. I sense that much heartache and battling within the Church would be remedied by inwardly digesting the written Word coming from the living Word whom we meet in the manger.

However, Satan’s power works its damndest to prevent and obstruct the Church from faithfully proclaiming the tidings of joy the angelic host proclaimed on Christmas Eve. Too many churchgoers and clergy would rather explain away the virgin birth, as if it is offensive nonsense, instead of taking the written Word as containing the truth about the Word become flesh. Clergy are preoccupied changing the culture within the Church while ignoring the Christless culture outside the Church needs Gospel. These busybodies, whether in the name of church growth or relevancy, always downplay Scripture’s truth to avoid the offense of Christ. Instead, they end up denying to their flock the tidings of comfort and joy and replace it with vapid and fleeting mirrors of society. There may be numeric growth but it matches the confines of the cold, dark world. There’s no light, for the Light of Christ’s revelation is placed under the lampstead, if at all. These wolves are afraid if the Scriptures were allowed to speak for itself, then it will do what it has always done: raise the dead.

Of course the Word is offensive, it always has been and always will be to us sinners. If we are perfectly comfortable with the Scriptures then we are not honest about the depths of our sin. But God did not become man to soothe our sinning but to save us scoundrels and fit us for new wineskins for a new world. The Church is very much a “hospital for sinners” but a hospital that fails to accurately diagnose and treat its patients with the correct medication will soon become bankrupt. The correct diagnosis is humanity are sinners through and through and the only cure is the Eternal One taking on our sinful flesh with flesh. The medicine of immortality and Gospel is the Christ comes to break His body and shed His blood despite ourselves.

Allow me to be frank. Too many clergy, lay leaders, delegates, theologians, Sunday School teachers, and educators are embarrassed by Scripture and fail the flock when they do not take the Word at His Word. Equivocation, ambiguity, and softening language are the name of the game, but the Word remains unchanged. As the Virgin Mary sang in her inspired Magnificat, “He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.” Therefore, I trust the grandmother with the faith of the shepherds, who responded to the angelic message of Gospel with, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us” than the pronouncements, dialogues, and explaining away done by the “the proud in the imagination of their hearts.” Perhaps it is the Bible-belter in me, but “chapter and verse” carries binding precedent over denying the text means what it says in the name of comprehension, dual integrities, and falsely walking together. Call me an Anglican fundamentalist, but give me that “ole time religion” of Article VI and the ACNA Fundamental Declarations which upholds Scripture as “the final authority
and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.”

HOLY Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.

OF THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES FOR SALVATION, Article VI, Articles of Religion

We need to have faith in the God who came to humanity. We need to trust the Christ, who throughout His ministry quotes from the Scripture as fact. He cites the Genesis account of the creation of Adam and Eve and gives no color commentary, for it needs none – He was the One there in the Garden and the One who inspired Moses to record it in Genesis. He does not quibble with the likelihood of a man being swallowed by a fish, He cites Jonah as history. He does not illuminate by which route Moses could have led his people out of Egypt, He quotes Moses as is. The Lord Jesus does not moralize the Old Testament like the bad Sunday School curricula churches sadly pass on to our children. Instead, He tells us that Abraham looked forward to His advent and rejoiced. Christ the Word trusts the Word He inspired through the Holy Spirit, why should we who follow Christ, do anything less?

Christmastide is a season not to be dismayed, but to dismay the world and fellow churchgoers by boldly proclaiming the Scripture and its truth. Scripture is the mirror to Christ, whose revelation it bears and reflects. Therefore let us rejoice in God becoming man! Within the four corners of Sacred Scriptures we meet the One who is the Word that spoke the cosmos into existence and who keeps the universe in existence all while lying within the confines of a lowly manger. If anyone is to be dismayed, let it be the ones led astray by Satan’s power who shall be unshackled by encountering the Word who wrote the Scripture we confess. Jesus is the stumbling block for many within and without the Church. In obedience to Scripture, let us bend the knee to the Christ-child in awe. He is our cornerstone and we are built, Lord-willing, into a holy temple of the Holy Spirit by laying ourselves on the truth of Holy Scriptures bearing witness to the Gospel: what Christ Jesus has done for us sinners.

My prayer this Christmastide, is that we meet and encounter the living Lord Jesus in the Holy Scriptures He inspired and gifted us. May our Lord God remind those within the Church, that the trends of the zeitgeist shall fade away but His words will always remain. Let us dive further and deeper into the written Word and respond like the faithful Bethlehem shepherds, by “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”

Satan’s power is destroyed. Christ is born. Glorify Him!


Rev. Andrew Brashier

Rev. Andrew Brashier serves as the Rector of Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd in Pelham, Alabama. and is an Archdeacon overseeing the Parish and Missions Deanery in the Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy. He writes regularly about ministry, family worship, daily prayer, book reviews, family oratories and the impact they can have in reigniting Anglicanism, and the occasional poem at www.thruamirrordarkly.wordpress.com. He recently republished Bishop John Jewel's Treatises on the Holy Scriptures and Sacraments (https://a.co/d/ikWCXG4). The second edition of his first book, A Faith for Generations, is now available at Amazon (https://a.co/d/3iVgwdJ) and focuses on family devotions and private prayer in the Anglican tradition.


'To Save Us All From Satan’s Power' have 2 comments

  1. December 25, 2023 @ 2:38 pm Philip Enarson

    A most informative, insightful and blessed Christmas Meditation from a Scripturally Faithful Undershepherd of the flock…May your number increase!

    Reply

  2. January 6, 2024 @ 9:13 am David Mica

    What a great read as we embark forward into the season of Epiphany. Well done Fr. Andrew. Glad tidings of comfort and joy to you.

    Reply


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