by Philip Abraham, Saudi Arabia
Will you work wonders for the dead?
Shall the dead arise and praise You? (Psalms 88:10)
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. (Psalms 116:15)
Though I'm living, I'm equal to the dead because I live a life of `Spiritual death' appears to be the questions raised in Psalm 88:10. In Psalm 116:15, on the other hand, the life of `Spiritual living' by a person, whose physical departure from this world is precious in the sight of the LORD is described, because he returns to be in his Fathers house, after having `fulfilled' the mission specified for him by the Father.
The fear of dead things or dying is called "Necrophobia," a psychological condition that affects a person's day to day activities. Yes, everybody is frightened to die. What will become of me after I die? What will become of those whom I leave behind? And many more are the anxious questions seeking an answer.
We forget, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."- (Psalm 23:4). The Church teaches that a `Christian' does not cease to be a part of the Church after death. One day every one born will have to die. This fact has to be accepted. Physical death is not a defeat but a route to heaven, provided a `Saintly life' was adopted by us.
What makes a Saint? A Saint need not necessarily be a bishop, priest, monk or nun. An ordinary person can be `Saintly' provided he/she fully obey the LORD and always keep His ordinances.
1) Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow- Isaiah 1: 17
2) Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night- Psalm 1: 1
3) The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them- Deuteronomy 28:13-14.
Other gods mean anything that you love more than the LORD GOD. It may, by itself, mean other gods; it may mean your personal and family relationships too; or wealth, luxury and "all" things which you hold dear to your heart that diverts your attention between you and GOD and prevents you from "fully" serving the LORD and keeping HIS ordinances.
But, if you fully obey, turning neither to the right nor to the left, then GOD makes you the `Head.' And when you're the "Head" you are anointed by the Spirit and you have a source of SPIRITUAL POWER. The Spirit begins to flow from you and is in everything that is in contact with you. This means even your shadow and your bones after your death can be a source of power. This is because your Soul (which lives after your physical death) is anointed by the Spirit too.
Psalm 116:15 says: "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." That's because you're returning to the `Father' after you have `fulfilled' HIS mission.
"Saints did the right things, sought justice, encouraged the oppressed, defended the cause of the fatherless, pleaded the case of the widow, did not walk in the company of the wicked, had nothing to do with the way of sinners and mockers, delighted in the law of the LORD and mediated upon it day and night, had been faithful to consistently abide by the commands of the LORD; had been careful enough to follow them, did not turn aside from any of the commands to the right or to the left, did not follow other gods and did not give way for their personal desires to come between them and God." - Now, that makes a Saint. A bit difficult for us the feeble, isn't it? But, God said if you can do it, then I'll make you the HEAD, NOT THE TAIL.
A) Acts 3; 6-8: A cripple man was begging at the temple gate, and he asked Peter and John for money. Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk."
B) Acts 19: 11-12: And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
C) Acts 5: 15: Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
D) 2 Kings 2: 13-14: He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? And when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
E) 2 Kings 13: 21: And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulcher of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.
Point (A) shows people were healed by "their faith" in `direct contact' with the
Points (B) through (D) shows people were healed by "their faith" by `indirect contact' i.e. through the materials or relics used by the Saints.
Point (E) however reveals the fact that even in the "total absence of faith" a `contact' to a Saint can also heal.
Recall, clothes used by Jesus had healing power: "And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment and immediately her issue of blood ceased." (Luke 8: 43- 44)
"And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole." (Mark 6: 56)
People believed Jesus' clothes had miraculous healing power. They new HIS clothes were enough to cure them and do wonders. And that's the reason why they competed amongst themselves to take ownership of His clothes. (Mathew 27: 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots).
Back to the point, what again makes a Saint?
To be a Saint you need to have a heart. Have a heart? Yes, we know we have a heart. We can feel it beat and it's an important organ without rest, pumping blood all around our body. We also know that though the brain controls emotions, it is the heart which has the `impact' by increasing or decreasing its beats. We know without a heart we're dead. We know a physician looking at a dead person's heart could tell the life style of its owner and about a living person's life style too, after hearing the sounds of the heart and studying the graphs obtained by its beats and prescribes ways to maintain a `good heart.'
But what has the heart got to do for a person to be a Saint? Yes, it's about your Spiritual heart, your inner self, your very being. God is the physician of your Spiritual heart. By looking at your Spiritual heart HE knows what type of a person you are and the life style you're leading.
HE has prescribed ways to maintain a `good heart.' Are we having a spiritually `good heart'? Not a heart drowned in `spirit' but a heart throbbing by the "SPIRIT."
When we talk about the physical heart, we are talking about one of the most important parts of the human body. The heart has to be kept healthy and we must take good care of it. If your heart is good, your whole body is good and if your heart is diseased, the whole body is in danger. This is the physical heart.
Spiritually, too, the heart is reflected as the seat of all our emotions and thoughts. If your Spiritual heart is good, your `whole being' is good and if your Spiritual heart is diseased, your `very being' is in danger. Without a spiritual heart you're dead spiritually. Your Spiritual heart is vital for your Spiritual well being. `We' should take special care of our Spiritual hearts.
What would the heart of Saints reveal?
a) Saints have a heart free of evil thoughts.
(Mark 7: 20-22 He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly").
b) Saints have hands free from sin and a pure heart.
(Psalm 24:4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false).
c) Saints are pure in heart and will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.)
d) Saints flee from evil desires, pursue righteousness, keep away from foolish and Stupid arguments and call upon God with a pure Heart.
(2 Timothy 2: 22-23 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels).
e) Saints always pray for a pure heart.
(Psalm 51: 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.)
f) Saints, when on their bed, search their hearts before falling asleep.
(Psalm 4: 4 ….. when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent)
g) Saints are ready to be examined by God.
(Psalm 17: 3 though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin)
And, the Result?
The LORD will establish you as his holy people, as promised by Him by an oath or covenant. "If you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you." - Deuteronomy 28: 9-10.
Yes, Saints have kept diligently the commands of the LORD and walked in his ways. God has established them as his holy people. All the peoples on earth see that they are called by the name of the LORD, and they fear them.
The life style and the faith adopted by the Saints should be an example and imitated by us.
Acts 3: 12-16 Peter declares "it is by Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see."
Mathew 10: 1 He "gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness."
When we see miracles happen and wonders taking place, we should glorify GOD and not the Saint.
Therefore, a true Christian must encourage the people to come nearer to the LORD, and not to the Saints. Yes, we must respect the Saints because God has established them as his holy people and we must also respect the relics of Saints because these are `anointed by the SPIRIT' too.
Most importantly, we must imitate the life style and faith of the Saints; but if the center of attention which is `Christ the LORD GOD' is lost from our hearts, then the very foundation of being a Christian is lost. It is here that Satan begins to take control.
|| The Orthodox Faith (Dogma) || Family and Youth || Sermons || Bible Study || Devotional || Spirituals || Fasts & Feasts || Coptics || Religious Education || Monasticism || Seasons || Missiology || Ethics || Ecumenical Relations || Church Music || Pentecost || Miscellaneous || Saints || Church History || Pope Shenouda || Patrology || Canon Law || Lent || Pastoral Theology || Father Matta || Bibles || Iconography || Liturgics || Orthodox Biblical topics || Orthodox articles || St Chrysostom |||| Bible Study || Biblical topics || Bibles || Orthodox Bible Study || Coptic Bible Study || King James Version || New King James Version || Scripture Nuggets || Index of the Parables and Metaphors of Jesus || Index of the Miracles of Jesus || Index of Doctrines || Index of Charts || Index of Maps || Index of Topical Essays || Index of Word Studies || Colored Maps || Index of Biblical names Notes || Old Testament activities for Sunday School kids || New Testament activities for Sunday School kids || Bible Illustrations || Bible short notes
|| Prayer of the First Hour || Third Hour || Sixth Hour || Ninth Hour || Vespers (Eleventh Hour) || Compline (Twelfth Hour) || The First Watch of the midnight prayers || The Second Watch of the midnight prayers || The Third Watch of the midnight prayers || The Prayer of the Veil || Various Prayers from the Agbia || Synaxarium