Whether you are familiar or not with the Scripture featured below, just read without trying to locate it in the Bible. Allow the Holy Spirit to read to you.
But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. 2 In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, 3 and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. 4 For though in the sight of others they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. 5 Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; 6 like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt-offering he accepted them. 7 In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble. 8 They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them for ever. 9 Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones, and he watches over his elect.*
Now read this next passage from Scripture in the same way.
And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22he has now reconciled* in his fleshly body* through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— 23provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.
Different parts of the Bible, but sounding as if penned by the same person. Aha moment! It is the same…Holy Spirit is the author.
What is curious to me is that the first reading comes from a book in the Bible that many evangelical, protestant Christians do not even read. It comes from Wisdom. And the book of Wisdom is in the Apocrypha (meaning, ‘hidden books). The books of the Apocrypha (Tobit, Judith, Additions to Esther, Wisdom, Ben Sira, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, Prayer of Azariah, Susanna, Bel, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Prayer of Manasses, Additions to Psalms, 3 Maccabees, 2 Esdras, 4 Maccabees) were separated out of the King James Version Latin bible in the 16th century by Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation.
In that period of rebellion against the Church (capital, not small ‘c’, as in Roman Catholic church), Luther determined these books were ‘not Holy Spirit’ inspired. He went even so far as to suggest that some were in the canon at the behest of the Church to support their own doctrines of salvation and sanctification. In other words, the words of these books were the words of the Church, not the Lord, God. Hmm.
Sola Scriptura was the phrase coined to distinguish a church of the reformation in opposition to the Roman church. No mediator needed or allowed. In Scripture all that was necessary to sanctification (process of becoming Holy) and salvation was to be found. Well. Pause. All the scriptura to be found in a redacted, edited, bible, that is. Hmm. I wonder.
To this day most evangelical churches and many mainline Protestant churches proclaim and teach and preach from bibles that have purposed to hide or even exclude some of God’s Word. What churches? Well, any that use any one of these bibles, New International Version, New American Standard Version, The Message, and The English Standard Version. Interesting. So many of these churches self-identify as ‘bible-based’ and preach against churches that to them don’t dwell in the Word.
Ah, the paradox and mystery of our Creator, our Abba Father.
Surely, He speaks to us through time and circumstance and promises that the good news will reach “every creature under heaven.” We believers – followers – disciples – we are all on the same, page, aren’t we? God speaks to us through all of His time, no?
Sanctification and Salvation are ours. We are all sought. We will all hear the gospel, as Paul reminds us and the Colossians in the epistle reading today and as Solomon describes, just as Paul would have, in the Wisdom passage. These two were certainly on the same page. One authored by the Holy Spirit.
Whether we lived before Jesus came incarnate, or whether we hear an edited version of the good news from our preachers and teachers. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit speaks, transforms, reconciles, loves, redeems from the beginning and for ever and ever.