The Power to Become the Sons of God

 

A Holy Supper Address by the Rev. James P. Cooper

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the sons of God, to those that believe in His name; who were born not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.1

    1. Our text this morning is from John’s version of the Christmas story. In just a few words, John has summarized the whole of the doctrine of the Lord, describing how the Lord God Jehovah, Creator of the Universe, who was in the beginning, became flesh and dwelt among us.
    2. John tells us further that the world did not know Him when we walked upon this earth, that His own people, the Jews, did not receive Him, but those who did receive Him were given the power to become the sons of God.
    3. This promise made so long ago, but with so much potential to each one of us today, gives us three points to focus on in our preparation for taking the sacrament of the Lord’s supper this Christmas season:
      1. First, there is the power that God gives us;
      2. Secondly there is our ability to change by our own free will, to become something other than we are from our hereditary nature;
      3. And finally there is the promise that we can be heirs to the Lord’s heavenly kingdom, that each of us can be the sons of God by bringing our lives into God’s order.
    4. The Lord promises to give those who receive Him, to those who believe in Him and follow His commandments, the power that they need to change their lives for the better.
      1. We all know that God is Omnipotent, that He has all power in the universe.
      2. We also know that of ourselves and by ourselves we have no real power at all.
      3. But this does not mean that we should therefore give in to our base desires and passions, that there is nothing we can do, and so do nothing to save ourselves.
    5. Each one of us feels the power of self-determination within us. Each one of us is constantly making choices and following through with those choices.
      1. We sense the power within us when faced with some obstacle, some resistance,
        1. whether it be circumstances that arise to block our way,
        2. or whether it is some one else’s decisions that gets in our way;
      2. when we are faced with a challenge to our own will, we feel power within ourselves to overcome that obstacle.
        1. We may call it determination, or stubbornness, or zeal: but that power is in us from the Lord. It is His, but it is a gift for us to use in whatever way we see fit as if it were our own.
        2. All that He requires is that we remember that it is His power and acknowledge that it is His from time to time.
      1. But it is difficult to remember God’s part in our lives. There are so many material and natural things that distract us.
      2. There are so many things that appeal to our loves of self and the world that we are directed away from meditating on the many spiritual blessings in our lives, from thinking about things we know from the Word and how they might apply in our lives.
        1. We forget to think about God’s inflowing life; we feel that life is our own and that we are totally independent of Him.
        2. We can become quite arrogant unless we are reminded that we need to trust in Him rather than in our own power, that we need to have our hearts turned towards Him and His laws:
        3. But in regard to the trust and confidence which is called Faith itself, the case is this. Those who are in the lo
          1. ve of self and of the world, that is, those who are in evils and the consequent falsities, cannot have this Faith, for their heart is not toward God, but toward themselves and the world. Whereas those who are in charity toward the neighbor and in love to the Lord can have such Faith, for their heart is toward the Lord” 2
            1. John described the state of those who hearts are turned towards themselves and the world when he wrote of those who were “born of bloods,” of the “will of man,” and of “the will of the flesh.”
              1. To be “born of bloods”3 represents being in a state of mind where we feel so strongly about something that we love in ourselves that we are willing to lie to protect it; to even twist the teaching of the Word itself to justify an evil act; to use the Word to justify evil, to support cruelty towards others, and if possible make it appear to be good.
                1. To be “born of the will of man” 4 represents to act according to our own unregenerate, selfish will, that is, to act contrary to true faith in the Lord, to love the evils of self and the world, and persuade one’s self that anything that favors self is good and true, while anything that favors another is evil and false.
                  1. And this is where we can see what it means to “become”. From birth we are full of tendencies towards all varieties of evil. We are born into the will of our flesh, our earthly, material, selfish needs. We must become new in spirit if we are to have eternal life.
                  1. To be “born of the will of the flesh” (ibid.) represents to act according to our unregenerate original will, the ruling love that is ours from birth and full of hereditary tendencies to evils of every kind.
                  2. But this flesh, while of itself evil, can be made heavenly. In the Word, “flesh” represents man’s proprium, or unregenerate ruling love, which is an evil thing–but at the same time “flesh” also represents the Divine Human of the Lord, for the Lord Himself came into the world to take on flesh and make it living, make it Divine through the process of Glorification.
                  3. The Lord’s “flesh” is now life itself, and if we live according to His laws, and believe on the Lord in His Divine Human, His “flesh” will vivify our “flesh,” and our proprium, our ruling loves, will become heavenly.
                    1. We read in the Heavenly Doctrines, From this “flesh” all flesh is vivified, that is to say, every man is vivified from the Lord’s Divine Human by the appropriation of His love, which appropriation is signified by “eating the flesh of the Son of man” 5, and by “eating the bread” in the Holy Supper; for the “bread” is the “body” or “flesh” 6 7The Holy Supper is an external sign of our willingness to participate with the Lord in this Holy act, that we can, by using His power to change our lives, be reborn, regenerated, “born of God.”
                    2. This is the state of love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor, and also a life of faith that is derived from such a life of good towards others.
                    3. If we bring ourselves into this order through our own free choice and the Lord’s power, our flesh, our proprial loves which of themselves are dead, will be vivified, filled with life from the Lord’s own Divine “flesh,” and because we are living a life according to the Lord’s commandments in the Word from conscience, He will be able to work in secret ways, inculcating the love of good in the will, making it new, making us into “sons of God” (text).
                      1. At Christmas time, our celebration is focused on the birth of the infant Jesus Christ, and this is as it should be, for it reminds us that Jehovah God, Creator of heaven and earth, took on the flesh of a human body in this world;
                      2. that He did this for the sake of the spiritual freedom of the whole human race, which would have perished without His coming. We read from the Heavenly Doctrines,
                        1. For this cause, from the necessity of their being saved, the Lord came into the world, and made the Human in Himself Divine, in order that as to His Divine Human He might become the Divine Light, and might thus illuminate the universal heaven and the universal world. From eternity He had been the Light itself, for that Light was from the Divine Itself through heaven. And it was the Divine Itself which took on the human, and made this Divine; and when this was made Divine, He could then thereby illuminate not only the celestial heaven itself, but also the spiritual heaven, and likewise the human race, which received and receives the Divine truth in good, that is, in love to Him and in charity toward the neighbor” 8
                        2. Through our belief and confidence in this miracle which we celebrate each year, we are given the power to repent from evil, to begin a new life of charity and faith, so that we may become, through regeneration by the Lord, the sons of God.
                          1. Fear not, little flock. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom 9. AMEN.

Lessons: Genesis 1:1-5, 14-19, John 1:1-18, AC 4180:5

                        1. 1 (JOH 1:12, 13)2

                    (AC 9241).

                  3

                (JOH 1:13)

              4

            (ibid.)5

        (JOH 6:51-58)6 (MAT 24:26, 27)8

      1. 7 [AC 813:9].

    (AC 4180:5).9

(Luke xii.32)

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