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Salvation III

Soteriology / Salvation

Part Three

 The works of the called the ‘Early Church Fathers’ are vast, tens of thousands of survived pages.  As a matter of fact the works of a few of these early church fathers were included into various codex or codices – that is into the appendixes of early bibles.   They are an essential part of Christian History.  Their preserved translated works can be purchased for a reasonable price from Christianbook.com (The Early Church Fathers, 38 Volumes; by Hendrickson Publishers; currently about $ 10 per volume to preferred customers) or can be currently viewed at CCEL.org (Christian Classics Ethereal Library).

The earliest of the fathers are often called ‘Ante-Nicene’ fathers because they ‘ante (precede or happen before)’ the Nicene Council of 325.   The Christian historian Philip Schaff, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson are in great part responsible for the translations and preservation of these works.  i shall follow their order starting with ‘Clement’ of Rome, a ‘fellow worker’ or disciple of Paul, of whom he mentioned in his letter to the Philippians (4:3).

It is believed that Clement was born around 30 AD; a year after the death of Christ on the cross – yes, yes i realize most of you are told 33 AD, yet Christ was born 4 BC during the last year of Herod the Great’s reign (Matt. 2:1), and Luke tells us he was about 30 when He was baptized (Luke 3:23), which coincidentally was the age in which Joseph became 2nd in command to Pharaoh (Gen. 41:46) and which was the age priests officially entered service (Num. 4:3), and Jesus was crucified after three years of witnessing.   Nevertheless, first century preacher Clement is said to have live to about 100 AD.   More importantly his letter was included in the Bible – the Codex Alexandrinus – a fifth century Greek Bible – likely compiled by the Christian bishops and or scholars of the school at Alexandria.  It was also an appendix in the Codex Hierosolymitanus and the Apostolic Canons (ca 380).  Thus, Clement is slightly more important than your pastor or any seen through the wonder of television.

So in Clement’s letter ‘To the Church which sojourns at Rome, to the Church of God sojourning in Corinth, to them that are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ’ he continues to write ‘to the elect of God,‘ to Christians – this is significant because there are those today they only identify ‘the elect’ with Jews for the purpose of trying to make their pre-tribulation rapture doctrine plausible in relation to various scriptures; but its beyond are scope here and addressed under the Rapture subject.  So Clement is talking to Christians to the elect and says, ‘you did all things without respect to persons’ [following God’s example (Deut. 10:17) and the apostles (Rom. 2:11; James 2:9)] ‘and walked in the commandments of God… giving all fitting honor to the presbyters among you…  And you were anxious (in pray) for the whole brotherhood, that the number of God’s elect might be saved with mercy… and the commandments and ordinances of the Lord were written on your hearts (Prov. 7:3; Deut. 6:8; 2 Cor. 3:3).’

Clement continues, ‘Every kind of honor …was bestowed upon you… hence flowed envy, strife and sedition…  So the worthless rose up against the honored… the foolish against the wise, the young against those advanced in years.  For this reason righteousness and peace are now far departed from you (the greater part of the assemblies; churches), in so much as everyone abandons the fear of God (Eccl. 12:13), and is become blind in His faith, neither walks in the ordinances of His appointment, nor acts a part becoming a Christian, but walks after his own wicked lusts, resuming the practice of an unrighteous and ungodly envy, by which death itself (through sin – death both physical and spiritual) entered into the world (Book of Wisdom 2:24; Rom. 5:12, etc.).’

So see that Clement follows the teachings that came before him, that even without electronic search engines he – who likely knew at least five languages – quotes and follows the prophets, apostles and earlier Christian letters.   Also see that Clement speaks of the ‘commandments’ of the Lord, and of the ‘fear of God,’ and ‘faith’ and ‘walking’ in the laws of Christ (Matt. 5:17; Gal. 6:2; etc.).

Clement goes on to talk about Cain’s envy of Abel and the envy of Joseph’s brothers and that ‘through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars of the Church have been persecuted and put to death… the illustrious apostles Peter… suffered martyrdom… and Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity… and after preaching both in the east and the west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith… suffered martyrdom under the prefects (Roman rulers – most say under Nero).  Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.’

‘To these men who spent their lives in the practice of holiness, there is to be added a great multitude of the elect, who, having through envy endured many tortures…’  Ok so let note this ‘practice of holiness’ because Clement, Moses, the Lord and His apostles say it is important (Lev 20:26; 1 Peter 1:16).  And Paul says, ‘without Holiness no man shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).’  Oh truly they will ‘confess the name of Jesus’ and ‘bow’ before our Lord and God, but they will not see Him for in their shame they will melt – they will not be able to ‘lift up their heads’ and in their condemnation they will be judged.   Ok back to Clement.

Envy and strife have overthrown great cities and rooted up mighty nations… let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God (the Father – some translations add), which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world.  … Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved.  Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites; but they, repenting of their sins, propitiated God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens (to the covenant) of God.’

Wow – now that is some important stuff and all of which Clement learned through Paul and the Lord’s apostles and of course the Gospel writings.   Grace to ‘repent’ – that is interesting; and obtained salvation how – through ‘repenting’ and did they have to ‘seek’ God by ‘prayer’ or at least conversation – verbally or in meditation (not in some corrupted existential way, but in the enter reflection with our God given conscience way)?

Clement continues, ‘The ministers of the grace of God have, by the Holy Spirit, spoken of repentance; and the Lord of all things has Himself declared with an oath regarding it, ‘As I live, says the Lord, I desire not the death of the sinner, but rather his repentance (Ezk. 18:11).’  …And He declares, though your sins be like crimson, I will make them white as snow… if you are willing and OBEY ME… but IF YOU REFUSE and will not hearken unto Me, the sword shall devour you… (Isa. 1:16-20).’ ‘…Abraham was found faithful, inasmuch as he rendered obedience to the word of God.’ ‘…On account of her faith and hospitality, Rahab the harlot was saved… she said, ‘I know assuredly that the Lord your God has given you this city…’

Let us therefore, brethren, be of humble mind, laying aside all pride and foolishness… let us act according to that which is written… especially being mindful of the words of our Lord Jesus which He spake, teaching us meekness and long-suffering… ‘Be merciful, that you may obtain mercy; forgive, that it may be forgiven to you; as you do, so shall it be done unto you… (Matt. 5:7; 6:15, etc).’  Maybe there is a requirement(s) for us?  Does the Lord really ‘require’ of us that we ‘act justly and love mercy and walk humbly (Micah 6:8)?’  Must we really forgive others to be forgiven?  Not that we have to support or walk with sinners or those who abuse us – only forgive them then afterwards seek the will of God for the situation.

Clement continues with his deep discourse full of treasures from the Scriptures, ‘…Our Lord Jesus Christ, that Sceptre of the majesty of God, did not come in the pomp of pride or arrogance, although He might have done so… and Job was a righteous man, and blameless, truthful, God-fearing, and one that kept himself from all evil.’

What of this humbleness and is ‘the fear of the Lord – wisdom and departing from evil understanding (Job 28:28)?’   Clement, after speaking about David, goes on saying, ‘Take heed, beloved lest the great Creator’s many kindnesses lead to the condemnation of us all… Let us reverence the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood was given for us; let us esteem those who have the rule over us; let us honor the aged among us; let us train up the young men in the fear of God; let us direct our wives to that which is good…

‘…Let us draw near to Him with holiness of spirit, lifting up pure and undefiled hands unto Him (1 Tim. 2:8; Psa. 134:2), loving our gracious and merciful Father, who has made us partakers of blessings of His elect…  Let us hasten with all energy and readiness of mind to perform every good work.  For the Creator and Lord of all Himself rejoices in His works… and the good servant receives the bread of his labor… the lazy and slothful cannot look his employer in the face.  It is requisite, therefore, that we be prompt in the practice of well-doing… Thus He forewarns us, ‘Behold, the Lord comes and His reward is before His face, to render to every man according to his work (Isa. 40:10, 62:11; Rev. 22:12).’

At this point there are those that will say there are different judgment seats for the Christian and the sinner.  I am to weary to argue that in this section except to say look at John’s words in Revelation… ‘let the evil or vile… continue to be so and let the right continue.. the Lord will reward or pay every man according to what he has done (Rev. 22:12),’ and Paul after saying of every person that ever breathed, ‘every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess to God;’ his very next verse is ‘so then every one of us shall give account of himself to God (Rom. 14:12).’  i understand these two witnesses will not satisfy most that are indoctrinated so if i am allowed that i will address it later; but whether i do or not, the Holy Scriptures and early church fathers have already done so long before Luther, Calvin and Wesley.

So a few last excerpts from Clement, ‘Let us …brethren, with all energy act the part of soldiers, in accordance with His holy commandments… Let our whole body, then, be preserved in Christ Jesus… Let the strong not despise the weak; let the weak show respect to the strong.  Let the rich man provide for the wants of the poor; and let the poor man bless God, because He has given him one by whom his need may be supplied.  Let the wise man display his wisdom, not by mere words, but through good deeds (Col. 3:17)…. Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit… Cleave to the holy… woe to the man by whom offences come, it were better for him that he had never been born, than that he should cast a stumbling block before one of my elect (Mark 9:42)… Let him who has love in Christ keep the commandments of Christ… and love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)… Let us pray that we may be blameless in love… look earnestly into the oracles of God… the Lord said (of His own people), ‘I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked (rebellious; stuborn) people; let Me destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven…’  May God, who sees all things, and who is the Ruler of all spirits and the Lord of all flesh – who chose our Lord Jesus Christ and us through Him to be a peculiar (Titus 2:14) people – grant to every soul that calls upon His glorious and holy Name, faith, peace, patience, long-suffering, self-control, purity, and sobriety, to the well-pleasing of His Name, through our High Priest and Protector, Jesus Christ, by whom be to Him glory, and majesty, and power, and honor, both now and forever. Amen.’

Why would we need to pray for such ‘fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)’ of God and from God, we are predestined that those good fruits, unless by free will we are able choose to not ‘walk by the Spirit’ or be ‘led by the Spirit,’ but rather endeavor in ‘the acts of the flesh… of which those who live by sexual immorality, envy, hatred, selfish ambition and such will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21)?’  Why who Paul say, ‘don’t you know that …you are slaves of whatever (spirit) you choose to obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death (Rom. 6:16; and we all are appointed death and judgment – Heb. 9:27; he is speaking of eternal death hear – the ‘second death’), or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? – Unless Paul knew the Spirit cries out to all mankind, because we all have a freewill, ‘choose for yourself whom you will serve; whether the gods of the world…’ or ‘the Lord (Joshua 24:15)’ but understand in your actions and with your words, ‘you are witnesses against yourselves (Joshua 24:22).’

In conclusion of this part on salvation, consider the fact that the early church acknowledged Clement and many put his work as an appendix in their Bible and Irenaeus and Tertullian spoke well of him and the Orthodox and the Protestants study his work in their seminaries, and the Catholics call him their fourth Pope (88-99 AD).   And with that said, consider his light shed on words and actions such as ‘repentance, holiness, righteousness, merciful, forgive, forgiveness, commandments, works, walking worthy, faith and fear of the Lord.’

 

by a servant

(Resipsa – free to copy for non-profit personal and ministry uses)

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