Abiding in Christ: John 15
Max Ogden: 1897-1970

(The following article was written by my grandfather more than 20 years ago. It actually was not written as an article. My grandfather had the practice of writing his sermons out word for word by hand. He would then either leave the hand written sermon in his study or carry it with him to the pulpit but it is said he never actually used them during a sermon. He preached from memory. I have his satchel with hundreds of those hand written sermons. The following was one he delivered to the Bear Wallow congregation outside of Horse Cave, KY. He preached for the church there from the first of 1964 to the close of the 1960's.)

The grandest most glorious institution that has been or ever will be in the world is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. There can be no more comparison between it and other institutions than there can be with comparing any individual with Christ.

It is greater because of its origin. It was established by the Son of God its redeemer and who is the Saviour of the world. No one has ever equaled His character. He was faultless without guile and apart from sin. He is the only person that has ever lived upon whom the stamp of perfection was placed by both God and man. Even his enemies regarded Him so. Pilate said before was condemned to die, "I find no fault in him." No man has ever been able to justify one single reproach made against him. All institutions honor and admire their heads. They praise and adore the memory of their leaders. Those who regard John Wesley as their leader commemorate the day he claimed to have been converted. They cannot compare with Christ the Head of the Church.

The church is superior to all other institutions because of its creed. Its constitution and laws are faultless because they have come to us from God, kept by Christ and revealed by His spirit. The wisdom of this world has tried at every point in every way to discover faults and errors but they have failed in every trial. The law of God stands today unshaken and unshakable and all that walk as it directs receive the blessings of God. James 1:25 "But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty...this man shall be blessed in his doing." Its demands are simple and understandable. Too simple for the wise yet beyond their understanding--1 Cor. 2:1-10. No creed contains such principles for character. No creed contains laws that always make people better and not worse. No creed makes men happier here and more hopeful here after. None can prepare us for a home eternal beyond the grave.

The church is greater than any of all others because it is for all peoples and points them to eternal bliss. This no other institution can do. I know that others do promise salvation but by what assurance? Has any of their heads conquered death and been exalted to the right hand of God because of obedience? No. What assurance do we have that the dead will be raised? It is by the resurrection of our head from the dead. He promises to fashion anew the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of His glory. John said we'll be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. What institution has a head who can promise such to his followers? All other organizations are for the time being. They pass away with this life and can promise nothing beyond death but the church of our Lord reaches its grandeur in eternity as the servants of God. There is no wonder the beloved apostle John said, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the children of God: and such we are."

It is the obligation of the church, God's family, to spread the cause and plea of our God. It is our duty to make clear to all or show the difference between the things of God and the things of men. God thought it necessary in the Old Law to the Jews. God's way of doing things has always been superior to man. Man's ways seem right to man but at the end is death. Ezekiel 44:23--He prophesied much about the captivity of the Jews and their return from captivity. They were in captivity because of their sins. They had allowed many things to happen contrary to the will of God and they seemed tn be happy to become partakers in such. They allowed the gentiles, or foreigner, to enter His sanctuary and defile it. The priests who waited upon the Lord and offered the sacrifices had offered them unto idols instead of unto God. He now tells of their return and says, "And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and cause them to discern between the clean and the unclean." God draws a line of distinction here. What is holy and clean here is what He has commanded. What is common and unclean is what is responsible for their condition. They went after those things. Proverbs 19:16--Solomon says, "He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his soul, but he that is careless of his way shall die." Who keeps his soul? He who keepeth the commandments of God.

This principle was true in the Old Testament. It is likewise true in the new. Hebrews 8--"For they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not." But in speaking of the new, "I will put my laws into their minds and on their hearts also will I write them. I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people." Who? Those who have His law on their hearts and in their minds. God's law cleanses people from sin and makes them God's people. His law kept them in God's love.

The lesson read (**he has reference to the text of John 15 which was apparently read to the congregation prior to the lesson**) said the apostles were clean because of the word Christ had spoken unto them. When it comes to teaching I cannon see much difference in the prophets and teachers today. The prophets were to teach that people might see the difference. Paul said he had declared war on every imagination that exalted itself against the knowledge of God that every thought might be brought into captivity unto the obedience of Christ. For, said he, they looked on things as they appeared before their faces. Paul's command was to preach the word etc. He told Timothy that from a babe he had known the sacred writing which were able to make one wise unto salvation. It is profitable for reproof, for correction, that the man of God be perfect and furnished unto every good work. This is the obligation of the church to preach the gospel to every creature.

Unless it is heard one will never be made wise unto salvation. Unless it is heart one will never know the difference in God's word from the itching ear crowd. Unless it is heart one will never have reproof and correction and be made perfect and furnished sufficiently for every good work. Hearing is the first obligation of one to become a child of God. Mark 12:28--The Sadducees had come asking concerning marriage in the resurrection. Then a scribe came and asked him, "what commandment is the first of all?" The first is, "Hear, O Israel. The Lord our God is one." People cannot be saved without hearing the commands of god and hearing is a command. Isaiah 55:3--"Incline your ear and come unto me. Hear and your soul shall live." Jesus is the one to be heard. At the transfiguration a cloud hung over them. "Hear ye Him." In every case in the Bible the thing that was first done was the apostles preached Christ. It was the gospel. It was the way, the truth, and the life. It was the way to the Father. Accept the way and be saved.

This page is Copyright 1998 by Alex Ogden, All Rights Reserved.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, November 04, 1998.

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