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THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION.

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Here, then, is our delightful assurance. We look back to the work of the cross, and there see the whole burden of all our sin borne by Him, and so put away for ever. We ask no further sacrifice, for we know that He made there upon the cross 鈥渁 full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world;鈥 and we now look to our Blessed Saviour as reigning and saving. Because He reigns we know that all is rightly ordered, and because He saves we believe that we ourselves shall be safe for eternity. We see many things in the world that are altogether opposed to what we think best; but we know that God has put all things under His feet, and given Him to be the Head over all things to His Church; and, therefore, that all is in His hand, and all will work together for good. We find deep sin in ourselves, and we know how hard a thing it is really to walk with God. We find defect in our prayers, defect in our faith, defect in our service, defect in our best efforts, p. 9defect everywhere; but we look up to yonder throne, and there we find a loving Saviour; one who knows our deep need,鈥攐ne who has died for us,鈥攐ne who loves us,鈥攐ne who can feel with us, and who vouchsafes to act as our Priest and Advocate, so that in the midst of all our shortcomings and deficiencies we may, in His Name, and through His most precious blood, 鈥渃ome boldly to the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.鈥.
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But I do not deny that the text is one of considerable difficulty. The first great difficulty is to ascertain to whom the words were spoken. From Luke, xxiv. 33, we find that the persons present were 鈥渢he eleven, and them that were with them;鈥 and there is nothing in the record to decide whether the words were addressed to the eleven Apostles separately, or to the whole company鈥攊ncluding, of course, laymen and women. My own belief is, that they were addressed to the eleven separately, and conveyed a special judicial power to these inspired men. That they possessed such a power p. 59is clear from history; for when Peter retained the sin of Ananias and Sapphira, God ratified his decision by their death; and when St. Paul passed sentence on the incestuous person at Corinth, he clearly claimed a supernatural power of judgment when he said (1 Cor. v. 3-5), 鈥淔or I verily, as absent in body but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.鈥 So when he remitted the same sentence he clearly claimed special right to do so; as he said, 鈥淚f I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it, in the person of Christ.鈥 But if this were the case, and if the power was given to the Apostles as a part of their apostolic office, it follows that with the Apostles it must have ceased for ever. Accordingly, in our Lord鈥檚 words there is not the smallest hint at transmission; and as for the idea that the Apostles could transmit it to the Bishops, and the Bishops to the Presbyters, it is altogether without foundation p. 60in the word of God. In fact, the case of the Corinthians proves clearly that it was not so transmitted. There cannot be a doubt, that when the epistle was written there were Presbyters in the Church of Corinth; and it is clear that Titus had just been there on a special mission, for he it was who brought to St. Paul the tidings of the repentance of the Corinthians (2 Cor. vii. 6, 7, and xii. 17, 18). But yet none of these persons appear to have had a transmitted power. It was necessary to refer the case to St. Paul himself. He retained and he remitted; and he did both 鈥渋n the person of Christ.鈥
1. The words themselves prove that they are figurative. Turn to 1 Cor. xi. 25, where we read: 鈥淭his cup is the new testament in my blood.鈥 Is there any one blind enough to suppose that the cup was changed into the new testament? The words must mean that the cup was an emblem of the covenant. When our Lord said, 鈥淚 am the vine,鈥 鈥淚 am the door,鈥 鈥淚 am the bread of life,鈥 He did not mean that He was changed into a vine, into a door, or into bread, but that all these things were emblems of His work. So He says of the cup, that it is an emblem of the covenant; and if we would be consistent interpreters, we must believe also of the bread that it was declared to be an emblem of the body.
21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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