Who Are You Going to Believe?
Tuesday of Christmas 1
3 January 2017
Sarcasm can be a devastating rhetorical tool; used sparingly, and when used, used cautiously. Hilary of Poitiers employed sarcasm when He addressed God in an ironic tone in his On the Trinity. His point was God's self-revelation had both temporal and theological priority over the new doctrines of the Arian heretics. Whom are you going to believe? God or the heretics? These heretical views were diametrically opposed to the scriptural revelation; so both could not be correct. Either God is correct or the heretics were. Who could best reveal God? God Himself or these false teachers? The answer is self-evident.
 
Hilary sarcastically entertained the idea that the heretics were correct and accused God of error about Himself. He didn't tell us the right things about Himself. God had misled His people when revealed God the Son on the lips of Moses, Isaiah, and all the Old Testament prophets. God then comes under judgment as a liar and a deceiver. This is a complete transvaluation of values in which humans are right and true and God an unrighteous liar.
 
Hilary resolved his sarcastic irony by attributing to the overwhelming power of the divine teaching the influence to keep him in that faith which the heretics have criticized as false and deceived. It is too late to correct the doctrine taught by God from Genesis to Revelation. He, like every faithful Christian, would trust himself to that Word which reveals Christ as the Son of God. For the Word, which teaches the Son, gives Him to us.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
 
"What is this hopeless quagmire of error into which You, O God, plunged me? For I have learned all this and have come to believe it; this faith is so ingrained into my mind that I have neither the power nor the wish to change it. Why have you deceived an unhappy man, this ruin of a poor wretch in body and soul, by deluding him with falsehoods concerning Yourself? After the Red Sea had been divided, the splendor on the face of Moses, descending from the Mount, deceived me. He had gazed, in Your presence, upon all the mysteries of heaven, and I believed his words, dictated by You, concerning Yourself. David, the man that was after Your own heart, has betrayed me to destruction. Solomon, who was thought worthy of the gift of divine Wisdom, and Isaiah, who saw the Lord of Sabaoth and prophesied, and Jeremiah consecrated in the womb, before he was fashioned, to be the prophet of nations to be rooted out and planted in, and Ezekiel, the witness of the mystery of the Resurrection, and Daniel, the man beloved, who had knowledge of times, and all the hallowed band of the Prophets; and Matthew also, chosen to proclaim the whole mystery of the Gospel, first a publican, then an Apostle, and John, the Lord's familiar friend, and therefore worthy to reveal the deepest secrets of heaven, and blessed Simon, who after his confession of the mystery was set to be the foundation stone of the Church, and received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and all his companions who spoke by the Holy Spirit, and Paul, the chosen vessel, changed from persecutor into Apostle, who, as a living man abode under the deep sea  and ascended into the third heaven, who was in paradise before his martyrdom, whose martyrdom was the perfect offering of a flawless faith; all have deceived me.
 
"These are the men who have taught me the doctrines that I hold, and so deeply am I impregnated with their teaching that no antidote can release me from their influence. Forgive me, O God Almighty, my powerlessness to change, my willingness to die in this belief. These propagators of [the Arian] blasphemy, for so they seem to me, are a product of these last times, too modern to avail me. It is too late for them to correct the faith which I received from You. Before I had ever heard their names, I had put my trust in You, had received regeneration from You and become Yours, as still I am. I know that You are omnipotent; I do not expect You to reveal to me the mystery of that ineffable birth which is secret between Yourself and Your Only-begotten. Nothing is impossible with You, and I doubt not that in begetting Your Son You exerted Your full omnipotence. To doubt it would be to deny that You are omnipotent. For my own birth teaches me that You are good, and therefore I am sure that in the birth of Your Only-begotten You did not begrudge Him any good gift. I believe that all that is Yours is His, and all that is His is Yours. The creation of the world is sufficient evidence to me that You are wise; and I am sure that Your Wisdom, who is like You, must have been begotten from Yourself. And You are one God, in very truth, in my eyes; I will never believe that in Him, who is God from You, there is anything that is not Yours. Judge me in Him, if it be sin in me that, through Your Son, I have trusted too well in Law and Prophets and Apostles."

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 6.20-21
John 5:36-47

"For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.
 
"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?"  (ESV)
Prayer
O Lord Christ, You have revealed Yourself to Your people through the prophets and apostles of old. Grant that we might read the Old Testament as the book that testifies of You, as You Yourself have said. In that reading let us receive the forgiveness of sins that You fulfilled by Your death in these dark and latter days. Amen.
 
For Ralph Clements, that the Lord Jesus would grant him a full recovery of health and strength after gall bladder surgery
 
For all those who do not await the coming of the Lord Jesus, that they might be brought to faith in the season of the Incarnation of our Lord
 
For those who are oppressed by their sense of human weakness in the presence of God, that Christ the Lord might lift them up forever
 
For all military personnel who are being placed in harm's way, that God our heavenly Father would send His holy angels to watch over them
Art: CORREGGIO,  Holy Night ( 1528-1530)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2016