+Perry Sill's Coat of Arms

Review of Faith, The Sacraments and Prayer

First, A review of some thoughts and new information:

Let's begin our review with a prayer that was often said in the time of Jesus and undoubtedly that Jesus knew and said often as we begin our review of Faith, the Sacraments and Prayer:
May Your will be done in Heaven above, and grant peace and contentment to those who fear [i.e. respect] You, and do whatever seems best to You, Father. May it be your will, O Lord, my God, to make me familiar with Your Law, and cause me to adhere to Your commandments. Do not lead me into sin, nor into iniquity. not into temptation, nor into dishonor. Compel my impulses to serve You, and keep me far from an evil man or evil companions. Give me good desires and good companions in this life. And let me this day and every day, find grace, favor, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see me, and grant me Your best blessings. BLESSED ARE YOU , O LORD, Who grants Your best Blessings to Your people, Israel.
      ---From the Midrash: Tosefta Berachoth 3:7 - Berachoth 60

Let us also review one or two of the Beatitudes that cause people a lot of misunderstandings and confusion: In Mathew 5:3 we read: "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Here "poor in spirit" is an abbreviation from Isaiah 66:2 -- of "poor and crippled in spirit." Remember, the Kingdom of Heaven is what Jesus calls the body of His followers. In Hebrew, "kingdom" can mean "rule" or "those who are ruled." Heaven is also a synonym for "God." the word "theirs" is a classic mis-translation. As we will see else where, "theirs" needs to be translated as "of such as these" or "these." We need to remember here, that as we come to believe in Jesus as Lord, Savior and God -- we are Baptized/Chrismated, we are then welcomed into His Kingdom. It is there that the poor and crippled of spirit are healed, having acted upon His Word and manifested that belief or faith by being Baptized and Chrismated. In Mathew 5:10 we also read: "Blessed are they, which are persecuted for righteousness sake; for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." In Hebrew, Jesus would have said it or taught it this way: "How blessed are those who pursue righteousness, for of such as these -- is the Kingdom of Heaven." Another example of this translation would be found in Isaiah 51:1. There are actually four (4) mis-translations in this beatitude. The word "persecute" needs to be translated as "pursue." "Righteousness" needs to be translated as "Salvation or Redemption." And "theirs" needs to be translated as "of these" or "of such as these."

Further in Matthew 5:11 - 12, Jesus is not speaking about persecution. Jesus was not urging His disciples to go looking for persecution or martyrdom to gain a heavenly reward. He was speaking about what the "attitude" the disciples needed to have when they were cursed and slandered by their fellow countrymen. They were not to be discouraged, but were rather to rejoice in the realization that their predecessors, the prophets faced the same kind of persecution.

Let us review Satan's or the World's kind of faith:

We need to understand and really come to the knowledge that Satan has provided an illusion of faith, or we might say "tempted" everyone within the Kingdom of God with a false kind of Faith. This false faith that Satan would have us use and buy into, so to speak, is in fact so tricky that most people cannot tell the difference.

The substitute that Satan has talked a lot of people into using is called "mental assent" or "agreement." Many people read God's Word and agree that it is "True," but they are agreeing only with their minds and not with their hearts (down deeply in their spirits). And this is not what gets the job done in our walk of Faith. It is the "heart" kind of Faith that is the real or true Faith of which Jesus speaks, teaches and refers to in the scriptures. Let us re-read in the scripture and see this fact for ourselves:

Mark 11:232 - 24
"For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall  not doubt in his hear (i.e. spirit) but shall believe that these things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he  saith (i.e. prays for)."

So, now the question must be asked, how can I tell "if" I have this "heart kind of Faith" or I am just "mentally agreeing?" Well, let's look at the difference.

Mental Assent or Agreement says, "I know God's Word is true. I know God has promised healing, but for some reason I can't get it; I can't understand it."
Real Faith in God says, "If God says it, then it is so. It is mine, I have it now. I have it even though I can't see it, feel it or touch it right at the moment."
Let's try and explain this concept yet another way. How many times have you heard someone say: "But the thing I have been praying for just hasn't come to pass yet." Sound familiar? If, you already had what you had prayed for, you would not have to believe it, for you would know it, by having it, right? We have to take that step of believing in order to come to the place of knowing.

To many, people want to know it from the standpoint of its coming to pass in their lives, and - then - believing it. Biblical Faith does not, repeat does not, work that way. We must believe it because God's Word says it is ours. Then it manifests or comes into our life to be experienced.

Notice in Mark 11:24 once again, that the receiving of what ever it is that we have prayed for comes after the believing. "What things so ever, you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them (now, right now - and then act like it. And how do we act like it -- by only giving thanks to God for what we have prayed for) and you shall have them." that is what Jesus is telling us through this scripture. You have got to believe you have it before you can receive it. Remember? Hebrews 11:1 - Faith, is the evidence (that thing which gives us something solid to hold on to until the answer to our prayer manifest into our life. God's Holy Word that never changes) of things which are as yet unseen in our lives, unexperienced.

This is so important folks. You, or I, or anyone, will never be able to receive the answer to our prayers or for healing or any other need that we have, that we pray for, to our Father in Heaven, if every time you do not "feel healed," when your body cries out to you "You don't have it," or you allow your thoughts, which trigger your feelings, to convince you that "you do not have the answer to your prayers." That is the way we allow Satan to win once again. And I don't know about you, but I am so tired of allowing Satan to have his way with us, and in this world of ours.

Let me say this once again! If you choose to sit around or stand around, or lay around and at the same time are busy complaining, groaning, sighing, etc and continue to gripe to everyone around you until every symptom has gone and your feelings finally correspond with what you have claimed or prayed for, you will not succeed in this walk of Faith. That is not what faith is, or how it is applied biblically in your Life.

Key things to remember are:

Hope always looks to the future, it is always future tense. When we choose to live in the future, the "what if's", what if this happens or that happens, all because of our need to always be right start to occur.

Faith is always now. Faith always says, I'll receive the answer right now. It is not hoping that gets the job done, it is believing that you have already received that which you have prayed for. You trust in God's Word, you stand on it, remain in it. confess only that (i.e. God's Word) and do not doubt that you have already received it, once you have claimed it Once you have claimed it, give only thinks for what you have already received.

Let us not forget Romans 10:10

"For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

Remember the Apostle and what he said, "I will not believe until I can see Him, put my own hand into His side that was pierced by the sword." Then, let us read about the faith of the Apostle Thomas in John 20: 24 - 29.

Why did Thomas find it so hard to believe Jesus was alive? Thomas knew of the nails that had pierced Jesus' writs and of the spear that was thrust into His side. Thomas' physical senses, his physical eyes, told him Jesus was dead. Thomas was using his "feelings" based on what his eyes and physical senses told him, rather than his heart of faith, based on God's Holy Word.

By way of witnessing what real "faith of the heart" is, let's then look at the faith of Abraham. We don't even need to search through the Old or First Testament to read about Abraham and his faith. It can be found in Romans 4: 17 - 21.

Notice the difference between Thomas and Abraham and their faith and how they implemented it in their lives. Thomas attempted to use a human kind of faith based on Mental Assent, his feelings and emotions and the witness of his physical eyes.

Abraham however, believed God's Word over, above and beyond what his eyes told him, no matter what his body felt like, or what human experience had taught him, or what his feelings wee or his emotions told him. If Abraham did not consider his own feelings or physical senses in his operation of his faith, what did he consider more important then what his eyes, his body, or others around him, hold him. God's Word. That is what was more important. That is what he trusted in and believed in until what he had prayed for came to pass in his life. Remember what it says of Abraham, "he considered not his own body," he considered only the Word of God, and what God told him to do.

Does that mean we do not honor our feelings and our emotions, No! What it does mean is, that after we have experienced our feelings and our emotions we still do what God has told us to do, without hesitation, constantly and consistently. Why is this all so important? In order to find out, we have to look where? Yes, once again in God's Word, not in ours, or in someone else's word or bit of knowledge, but in God's Word, the Holy Bible.

Let us then look at Matthew 9: 29: "According to your faith be it done unto you." May I say, right here and now, that this teaching of faith is not, repeat is not asking us to pretend anything. It is not asking us to deny that we have pains, or other symptoms, or that they are not real for us. Instead, we asked by Jesus to look beyond them and still do what God has asked us to do in His Word. That is the way we receive God's Promises.

The real "heart" (your spirit) kind of faith in God and His Word says: "If God said it, then it is so. I have no need to question it, doubt it or not trust it. Why? Because God never lies. He never goes back on a promise. He does not pretend and he never goes back on His word.

We all need to stop playing mental games in our heads about what God's kind of faith is and how it works. Once again, If God says something is so, then it is and there are not ifs, ands or buts about it. It is just that simple and just that hard. When God says "By whose strips (meaning Jesus) you have been healed," then you are healed, but you have to pray for it, claim in faith what our Lord Jesus Christ has opened the door for us to receive, and then stand on it, believe it without a doubt, until it manifests into your life experience. When God says that "My God shall supply all your needs," He does! When God says, "The Lord is the strength of my life," He is!

Real faith, the faith of the heart, is built upon God's Word to us. It is built on the understanding of acting on, doing something about what God tells us to do, believing it without a doubt and not just mentally agreeing with it.

For instance, remember doctors and nurses are not here to cure us, they are here to help treat us, to treat our symptoms, so that we can claim our healing. They can often tell us what is wrong, treat our symptoms to help strengthen us to "claim our healing in and by faith." then we need to stand on the promises that God has made to us, consistently and constantly, believing in them (i.e. which is our evidence, our faith) until that healing or answer to our prayer, no matter what it is for, manifests in our life.

Let us look at the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist:

You see, I have to wonder if we really know what the "real presence" of Jesus within the Holy Eucharist, Holy Communion really means. And that wondering has to do with, our understanding of what faith really is, isn't it?

Remember? If God said it, it is so. God does not play at words trying to deceive us or confuse us! That is why our Lord, Savior and God, Jesus Christ said: "Take eat, This is My body" and he also said "Take drink ye all of this, for this is My blood, which is given for you." We need to realize that Hebrews 11:1 is just as applicable here, in the understanding of the Sacraments, as it is to every other part of our faith walk and life experience here. Mark 11:23 - 24 is just as right in this case, as it is in every other part of our prayer life.

You see, I have to wonder if Christians really realize what this faith process really means. It really doesn't matter if the host (i.e. the bread) used in the Holy Eucharist still looks like bread after it is consecrated, or that the wine used in the Holy Eucharist still looks like wine after it is consecrated into the Blood of our Lord, Savior and God, Jesus Christ, does it? It doesn't matter if the mountain we are praying to be move is 20,000 feet high, or if it is a cancer in our bodies or what ever else is going on in our lives. What matters is, what God has told us in His Holy Scriptures, not whether we think we can believe, without a doubt or, that we are not able to do it.

Whether we choose to believe and practice God's kind of faith, or we do not, does not change God's Word in any way. What does change in our own lives if we chose to live and dwell in God's Word, is that those aspects of our daily lives that have not been going well, our health, etc., is changed, healed, when we start operating in God's heart kind of faith.

Learning to give up our worldly kind of faith, the false kind of faith that Satan would have us follow, called Mental Assent or Agreement, the saying I believe, but can't seem to understand it, or make it work, leads us to the kind of success that Satan wants us to have -- none, no success, no healing, no improvement or happiness in our life, hopelessness, depression, victimhood, you name, Satan and his followers are always eager to help us attain that kind of false faith. A false faith that is based on what your eyes tell you, what the world tells you, what your feelings and emotions tell you and not what God tells you.

Dear bothers and sisters in our Lord, to believe with our hearts, to practice our faith with, and in, our hearts (i.e. our spirits), is the path we need to follow through all this darkness of confusion, anger, threats of violence, whether mental or physical.

When God/Jesus said "this is My body and this is My blood," we now know that we are to implement the Word of God, like all the other Words of God, and that is to use the faith of our heart. Please understand, that when we say the faith of our heart, the scripture is not talking about the physical organ that pumps blood all over our bodies. To believe that, we might as well say to have the faith of our finger, or our hand, No, to have the faith of our heart means that we need to once again look into the scriptures, God's Word.

Remember, when we say for instance that we need to go to the heart of some situation, or we speak of the heart of a tree, or the heart of the artichoke which is something that we eat, we are really saying, let us get to the core, the center of this subject, the main part of it. around which the rest of it revolves or surrounds it. When God talks about our heart, He therefore is speaking of the main part of us, the real part of us, that never dies, that which will live forever, the very center of our being, which is the "spirit" within us.

Let us now look at 1 Thessalonians 5: 23.

"And the very God of Peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God, that your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved  blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
We need to know and understand that when God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, speaks of the heart of man, that He is really speaking of "the spirit of man." And that they are used inter-changeably throughout the Bible. We know that men and women are spirit, because God made us in His image and likeness, and Jesus taught us that "God is a spirit." (John 4:24) We need to know and remember always, that it is not our physical bodies that are like God, for the Bible says that God is not a man or a woman. We need to remember that there is an outward man and woman and an inward man and woman, and that man and woman is a spirit, who has a soul, and lives in a body.


+Perry (Joseph Benedict, OSB/bcsa) Sills, S.T.L.
            Bishop Primus
The Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church in America
            San Jose, California

Scriptures for us to review and study:

Proverbs 4:20-22  	Mark 11:23 - 24
John 20:24- 29 Romans 4:17 - 21
Matthew 9:29 1 Thessalonians 5:23
John 4:24

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