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THE FEELING OF ABSOLUTE DEPENDENCE

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작성자 최고관리자 작성일15-11-27 17:01 조회1,156회 댓글0건

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 <Matthew 8: 5-13>


 

 The father of modern theological liberalism, Friedrich D. Schleiermacher (1768-1834) defined religion as the feeling of absolute dependence. He viewed and defined the basic precept of religion as human beings, by its nature created beings with finite and limited abilities, having absolute dependent and reliant awareness towards God, the absolutely omniscient and omnipotent Creator.

 

 

 Perhaps no other phrases so succinctly and accurately describes the fundamental basis of Christian religion.  Religion is the cognition of complete and total dependence upon the Absolute Being, God.  Having more faith in one’s own intellect, abilities, and experiences while professing faith in God is not an indication of having absolute faith in God.  Such a person is probably not a true Christian.

 People generally consider Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), Dwight L. Moody  (1837-1899), and Billy Graham (1918- ) as three greatest orators of Christian religion the golden-throated preachers of 19th and 20th centuries.  What made each of them great preachers, enabling them to influence multitude of lives?  Why did God choose them as His workhorses?

           

 

 Spurgeon confessed the following in the preface of his sermon anthology.  “Recollect who I am, and what I am?  A child, having little education, little learning, ability…Without the Spirit of God I feel I am utterly unable to speak to you.  I have not those gifts and talents which qualify me to speak; I need an afflatus from on high; otherwise, I stand like other men, and have naught to say.  May that be given to me, for without it I am dumb!”  Because Spurgeon absolutely depended upon God, he was able to deliver his great sermons, which won millions of people over in an era where there were no microphones or other sources of mass media.

           

 

Moody’s father was an alcoholic who passed away when Moody was four years old.  Moody’s formal education ended in 7th grade, and because he was never formally ordained as a minister, people called him “Mr. Moody” throughout his life.  God used such uneducated and seemingly insignificant man to great and surprising ends.  Throughout the course of his life, Moody traveled over 1 million miles while delivering his sermons.  Throughout his life, he delivered sermons to over 100 million people.  Moody described himself as such:  “I know that other men can preach better than I can.  All I can say is that when I preach, God uses me.”  The reason for God’s use of Moody is simple.  Moody relied completely upon God and not upon himself.

 Perhaps no greater evangelist existed on this earth than Billy Graham.  Wherever he went in this world, millions of people gathered to receive great grace.  Graham said the following about himself once:  “I have often said that the first thing I am going to do when I get to Heaven is to ask, ‘Why me, Lord?  Why did you choose a farm boy from North Carolina to preach to so many people, to have such a wonderful team of associates, and to have a part in what You were doing in the latter half of 20th century?’  I have thought about that question a great deal, but I also know that only God knows the answer.”  The reason for God’s use of Billy Graham is simple and basic.  It is because he relied totally upon God.

           

 

Today’s scripture talks about the faith of a centurion in Capernaum.  Similar passage appears in Luke 7: 2-10.  The centurion was not a Hebrew he was a Gentile, an officer in the Roman Army.  But the centurion’s servant was cured because the centurion had absolute faith something that even the Jews, the chosen people who shared same ethnicity as Jesus, did not have.  This centurion shows us that fundamentals of Christian religion are based upon the feeling of absolute dependence.

           

 

 In today’s world, a centurion is equivalent to a company commander.  In the Roman times, centurion was the most important post and rank in the organizational structure of the Roman Army.  Strangely, the Bible says nothing but good things about centurions throughout its pages (see Luke 23: 47, Acts 10: 22, 22: 26, 232: 17, 23, 23, 24: 23, 27: 43).  All of you are probably quite familiar with another centurion, Cornelius, in chapter 10 of Acts.  Firm and untarnished faith of Cornelius enabled Peter to open the door of Gentile missions and ministry.  The important thing to remember about centurions is that in the Bible, the ‘faith of centurions’ is delineated to represent ‘faith of Gentiles.’ 

           

 

Today’s scripture sharply contrasts the centurion’s faith to Jewish people’s lack of faith.  Let’s look at the centurion of today’s scripture.  He had a servant, who was probably also a Gentile a Roman and not of Jewish descent.  This servant had a stroke and suffered from resultant paralysis.  Stroke is an affliction that normally incapacitates and paralyzes people, greatly tormenting the victim and those around him.  According to Roman laws of the day, this servant was but a mere possession of his owner.  The master could kill a servant if he rendered the servant useless and without purpose.  A glance at that ancient Roman manuscripts and records reveals that Roman servant owners often discarded and abandoned old and diseased servants, the ones that had little value to them. 

 From the centurion’s perspective, he could have easily abandoned or disposed of his afflicted servant, who was paralyzed from stroke.  But this centurion was full of love and mercy.  He had true character and virtues.  He deeply loved his servant, and wished to cure his servant at any cost.  And he happened to hear the rumor about Jesus the rumor that Jesus, through the power of God, heals people who are afflicted with all kinds of diseases.

           

The Gospel of Matthew portrays the centurion visiting Jesus in person to ask Him for help in healing his servant; Luke portrays the centurion sending several Jewish elders to ask Jesus for His help.  Regardless of the method, the important fact is that the centurion asked Jesus for help.  Out of his love for his servant, the centurion asks Jesus to help him.  Upon hearing about the servant’s condition, Jesus tells the centurion that He will visit his house to heal the servant.  The centurion’s true faith is revealed after he hears Jesus give His word.

           

 

Any other person especially a non-Jewish Gentile like the centurion would have wanted Jesus to visit his home to offer a prayer of healing.  But the centurion shows complete opposite response in verses 8 and 9 of today’s scripture.  Korean New Translation version of the Bible records the centurion’s response follows:  “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.  But only speak a world, and my servant will be healed.  For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me.  And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 

           

 

The humble response of this centurion has something to do with the old Hebrew commandments.  According to the customs of the day, pious and devoted Jews could not enter a Gentile’s home (see Acts 10: 28 and Deuteronomy 7: 3).  The centurion knew of the strict Hebrew commandments, and had the utmost reverence towards it.  The centurion was a man of true character and one who had a comprehensive understanding of foreign cultures.  Yet, the centurion’s attitude has its roots in the feeling of complete reliance upon Jesus.

           

 

 The centurion was a true military man, a soldier’s soldier.  Soldiers live and die under orders and commands given by superior officers.  A true soldier does not disobey his superiors.  In the Roman Army, the prerequisite for obtaining the rank of centurion was demanding not anyone could become a centurion.  Ancient historian Polybius records the qualifications for the rank of centurion as such:  “They must not so much be seekers after danger as men who can command, steady in action, and reliable; they ought not to be over anxious to rush into the fight; but when hard pressed they must be ready to hold their ground and die at their posts.”  The centurion of today’s scripture probably met all these qualifications, and as such was chosen and given his post.  He was probably a very good soldier.  Therefore, he confirms that his servant will be healed when Jesus gives His word without having to visit the centurion’s house.  The centurion could not have said such if he did not believe that Jesus had the power to heal the afflicted from afar.

           

 

In truth, most of Jesus’ miraculous healings happened in person at the given location, usually in the places where the afflicted were.  Jesus usually healed people by putting His hands on the afflicted or diseased part of the body, or by giving a word of authority and power to the patients in person.  But in the case of the centurion’s servant, Jesus healed him from afar even though Jesus was not present at his location.  Take a look at verse 13.  “Then Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.’  And his servant was healed that same hour.”  At the same instant that the centurion professed his absolute faith and dependence upon Jesus, the centurion’s servant was healed of his affliction.

           

 

Jesus is impressed by the centurion’s faith.  He says the following in verse 10.  “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”  Jesus found the truest form of absolute faith in the centurion something that He could not find amongst His chosen people, the Israelites.  And he prophesies the tragedy that will befall the chosen people of Israel when they fall into a state of faithlessness.

           

 

Take a look at verses 11 and 12.  “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the sons of the kingdom will be base out into outer darkness.  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  What is this passage denoting?  The multitudes of people entering the kingdom from the east and the west are Gentiles the non-Jewish foreigners and you and myself.  Gentiles will enter the kingdom while the ‘true heirs of the kingdom,’ the people of Israel, will be cast out into the darkness, weeping and gnashing their teeth.  What factor determines such disparate fates, between heaven and hell?  Faith and lack of faith determines where we go.

           

 

 In the South Cholla Province of Korea, “The Lighthouse Orphanage” has been operating since 1950s.  Established by Reverend Joonmok Lee and his wife to look after the war orphans of the Korean War, the orphanage reared and looked after countless number of orphans in Korea.  One day, the postman delivered a strange letter to the orphanage.  The envelope had no return address it just had the clearly printed words “A letter to God.”  Thinking that the letter is a hoax, the postman almost threw the envelope away but upon taking a particular liking to the bold and grave title, he brought the envelope to Reverend Lee at the orphanage. 

 The letter had the following words:  “A letter to God.  God!  I want to study very much.  I cannot stand my thirst for knowledge.  I am willing to starve or even work like a slave.  Please find a way for me to study.  I am willing to give my body and life to You; please help me by answering my prayers.”  The letter, whose page was worn out through countless repetitions of editing and erasing, vividly captured a young man’s boundless fervor and the passion for knowledge.  Reverend Lee sought the author of the letter, near and far.  And after a long, arduous search, he found the young man.  The reverend brought the young man to the Lighthouse Orphanage and fulfilled his desire to study.

           

 

The young man lived in a small mountain village called Sanjungri, near the city of Haenam in southern Korea.  He was a son of a notorious gambler who had lost all his property and assets through gambling and drinking.  The father, having nothing to his name, became a modern-day indentured servant, working as a house hand.  When his son graduated from elementary school, he kept his son from attending middle school and made him work as house hand in other people’s houses.  The young boy prayed underneath a church steeple every day, and wrote a number of letters to God.  He prayed and wrote to God, asking Him to help him study.  The young man’s prayers were answered, and he was able to study to his heart’s content at the orphanage with the support of Reverend Lee.  He graduated from middle and high schools at or near the top of his class, and entered the Hankuk Theological Seminary.  He went on to study at the Basel University in Switzerland, earning a doctorate in Theology.  The man in question is Dr. Youngsuk Oh, the President of Hanshin University in Korea.

           

 

God is indeed alive.  If Youngsuk Oh, as a boy and a young man, did not harbor the feeling of absolute dependence upon God, then he would have wasted away in the mountains of South Cholla Province as a house hand.  “A Letter to God,” the letter that he wrote, having the utmost reliance and faith in God, was finally delivered to God.  God appears before those who rely upon Him and do not rely on themselves.

           

 

True faith is a feeling of absolute dependence.  God is as big as the your reliance upon Him He is as big as how much you lean and depend upon Him.  The more you hang onto Him, the more you depend on Him, the more God’s help and abilities will influence your lives.  Like the centurion, I pray in the name of our Lord that all of us can have the absolute, complete and total dependence upon God. 

Amen!

 

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