Spiritual Miasma: Towards Progressive Holiness

Reference & Education

  • Author Prof Obed B. Chelogoi
  • Published July 27, 2022
  • Word count 3,186

In the advent of these tumultuous times, the preacher needs to avoid hyperbolic fallacy and engage in a serious exposition of Scripture that elevates to glorification. Moreover, the minister must evade misinterpretation of the apocalypse of consternation and ready themselves for Christ's Parousia, or else many will go before the Lord empty-handed. Go to your privacy and think of the following.

I. Oboedire (Obedience):

Oboedire is a Latin word for obey. The joy of any call is in obedience. The word “I believe” summarizes the aspect of faith in God who is the giver of Scripture. Moses removed his sandals when he approached God in the burning bush. His obedience made him enjoy his calling. He advises servants, firstly, to expect anathema (curse) if they disobey God and, secondly, a raft of blessings if they obey Him,

“If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine, and olive oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor will any of your livestock be without young. The LORD will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you.” Deut.7:12-15.

God is not a dictator but a democrat. In Judaism, G-d does not command blind obedience. Ein haKadosh Barukh Hub ba be-tirunyiah im beriyotav; ‘G-d does not deal despotically with His creatures’ (Avodah Zarah 3a). If He sought no more than mindless submission to the Divine will, He would have created robots, machines, or genetically programmed people who responded automatically to commands as dogs to Pavlov’s bell. G-d wants us to be mature, and deliberative, to do His will because we understand or because we trust Him when we do not understand. He seeks from us something other and greater than obedience, namely responsibility.” be-tirunyiah im beriyotav; '. (The Obedient Word – a further reflection by ANDY posted on DECEMBER 4, 2012)

God calls preachers to obedience by reasoning together (Is 1:18). Prophet Isaiah was called but he raised the issue of his integrity but obeyed when God reasoned with him (Is. 6:5-7). Prophet Jeremiah obeyed after confirming his calling through reasoning with God. He was set apart for a vocation when he was a fetus and he obeyed (Jer. 1:6). Paul was humbled by God on the road to Damascus on his expedition to persecute Christians and he obeyed (Acts 26:16-18). He later enjoyed his ministry. Jesus reasoned with the scribes on the need for obedience to God. Logical thinking is a process through which callings are confirmed and obedience enjoyed. It is, therefore, important for any preacher to confirm his obedience and calling in the confines of his heart. It is not a collective endeavor. It is a personal soul search and subsequent change for a better ministry.

II. Shema

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deut. 6:4-9.

Shema is a Hebrew word that means listen. Shema was a liturgical prayer in the traditional prayer book that was recited at sunrise and at sunset. Judaism regarded The Shema highly because it emphasized monotheistic worship. In classical Hebrew language Shema Yisrael’s opening words, “Hear O Israel: The LORD(YHNH) our God (ELOHIM), the LORD(YHNH) is one” is the centerpiece of their prayer. It was a recitation of the Jewish confession of faith. In the prayer book they included the Shema which is Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

It was the first paragraph that expresses the faith and willingness to carry the heavenly yoke. The second paragraph was V’haya im shamoa in Deuteronomy11;13-21 which is the willingness to carry the yoke of commandments. The third paragraph was Vayomer in Num. 15:37-41 which relates to redemption work. Of the three paragraphs, the first and the third were the most distinct in terms of reference. The morality and righteousness of every reciter mattered! The words were pronounced distinctly and without a slur. The Hebrew letters YHVH were the name of God which was unpronounceable as a way of reverencing Him. He was the God of revelation and redemption who deserved total respect.

How many preachers listen to the Bible speaking to them? The preacher must revert to recitations of scripture not for use in preaching but as a reminder of who God is and listen as God speaks to their hearts. There is no option to it. What happens to Sunday-only preachers? They quickly run to the Bible, fumble, flip pages and speak to the Scripture what they want. From there, they go to preach “what God told me to preach,” they claim. This is called eisegesis in exegetical theology and is a very dangerous trend for both the preacher and congregants.

The Jews revered God and listened to Him. The preachers ought to keep quiet and listen to the Bible through a habitual reading. Listening to God comes through praying a listening prayer. There is a lot of noise because the preacher is giving God a list of needs and seems to be forcing Him to say, “Yes, I will give them to you, my child!” God deserves respect because He is not anyone’s age mate and His name is Holy. The preachers ought to recite prayers from collections of prayers that exalt God every day to shape their prayer mannerisms.

III. Coram Deo:

“And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together.

For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 40:5

Coram Deo is a Latin word that means “in the presence of God.” This was fulfilled when Immanuel (God with us) was born to us in Matt 1:18-25 through the ministry of John the Baptist who came to prepare the way for Him who was bringing salvation to the world (Matt 3:3) which will culminate in the ultimate fulfillment of His revelation during the Millennium. It is the knowledge that God is above everything because he created everything (Col. 1:16-17) and that he is the Redeemer of the entire world (John 3:16) that informs humanity that there is a Supreme God who requires reverence.

In this context, living Coram Deo means constantly being aware of His presence and seeking to converse with him cautiously. It does not necessarily bring into the picture the church or a multitude but a singular endeavor of each preacher. It is a time of contemplating the goodness of God in every area of daily chores and consciously being aware that He is present and watching everything. It is seeking to commune with and bring God to all activities and the acceptance of God’s authority as the Psalmist sang,

“But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.” Ps 55:16-17.

Many preachers today make no difference between how they live and what they preach. The secular (world) and sacred(church) approach to life for them is bemoaned. Living in the world is not equal to living like the world. Many have been defeated to balance the equation! The fear of God is diminishing and quickly paving way for apostasy. Remember, when there is noise between you and God you lose. Be humble even in small things like your postures because they depict your humility. You need to ask yourself questions like, “Is God happy with what I am doing?”, “Am I communicating with him daily and properly?”, “Is He pleased with what I do?”, “Do I need to confess?” Remember, God’s immanence demands holiness.

IV. Lectio Sacra

“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching, and to teaching.” I Tim. 4:13

Lection Sacra is a Latin word that means reading of scripture. The word was used by Church fathers like St Augustine of Hippo, St Jerome, and St Ambrose among others. Later, the Protestant Reformation advocates used the term to refer to the public reading of scripture to ward off heretics. Letio Sacra was read alongside Lectio Divina (meditative). It was a process that had three parts;

a. Read scripture (Lectio):

“And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” So, I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So, I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.” Ez. 3:1-3.

b. Meditate scripture (meditatio):

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Jos 1:8

c. Pray scripture (oratio):

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7

d. Contemplate scripture (contemplatio):

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” Eph. 1:17-18.

This movement did not view Scripture from an academic angle but rather with a spiritual lens to enhance its relationship with God. Lectio Davina is a spiritual process within an individual towards attaining a strong foundation of faith in God through reading scripture. But it cautions on avoidance of certain verses on the basis of difficulties in extracting lessons. The principle of Lectio difficilior potior looks at the text critically to unearth the meaning underneath the obscurity. Do not ignore it simply because you do not understand for there lies the meaning. The preacher is therefore called to delve into the word before going out with it. Eat it daily.

According to the Gemara(Talmud) (2a), Rabbi Hanina bar Papa(A renowned Talmudist of the 4th century) offered a homily suggesting that at the End of Days God will hold a Sefer Torah (Sefer- Bible and Torah-Teaching)and announce that the ultimate reward will be given to those who involved themselves in Torah study. In this context, the Gemara quotes the teaching of Rabbi Me’ir who teaches that a non-Jew who studies Torah should be treated like a kohen gadol – like the High Priest. This is based on the passage (Vayikra 18:5) that says that we must perform the laws of the Torah that a person does – asher ya’aseh otam ha-adam – and the terminology used is the generic ha-adam – “a person” – rather than Jewish people, like kohanim, levi’im and yisra’elim. Thus, the credit given to someone who studies apparently applies even to non-Jews.

v. Claritas Scripturae:

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” II Cor.4:3-4

Claritas Scripturae is a Latin word that means the clarity of scripture. The perspicuity of scripture is more on the desire to know all the above. But the question is; how clear is the clarity of scripture? In trying to answer the question the Lutherans claimed scripture as it is written is clear and there is no need for further exegesis (what it says in its original context) or specialized education. Martin Luther alluded, "But, if many things still remain abstruse to many, this does not arise from obscurity in the Scriptures, but from [our] own blindness or want [i.e., lack] of understanding, who do not go the way to see the all-perfect clearness of the truth... Let, therefore, wretched men cease to impute, with blasphemous perverseness, the darkness and obscurity of their own heart to the all-clear Scriptures of God."

For Luther, everything is clear in scripture when it comes to the question of how clear is clarity of Scripture. Employing his argument, Luther can be understood as reactionary to the Papal church asserting Authority over scripture and the need to allow people independently to depend on the Holy Spirit to interpret and make it clear. The Protestants theologians, consistently maintained that perspicuity was an attribute, a property, of Scripture. The significant themes attached to the advocacy of perspicuity include the belief that

(1) Scripture is a clear and certain rule of faith since no necessary doctrine is obscure,

(2) clarity is a necessity since Scripture alone is the means of saving faith,

(3) Scripture functions as its own interpreter with the unclear being explained by the clear,

(4) perspicuity is only limited by human sin and ignorance, and

(5) Scripture must be clear because God, its author, can only speak clearly and understandably.

Each assertion is predicated upon a consensual perception of Scripture's authority within Protestant hermeneutics: Scripture is clear because it is read as (if it is) clear. While there is no isolation of clarity from a Protestant assertion of Scripture's authority, each of the five themes revolves around the belief that clarity is a quality of Scripture itself rather than something brought to the text by the reader." laritas Scripturae: The Role of Perspicuity in Protestant Hermeneutics; James Patrick Callahan). He, however, attached great significance to both the inner (certitude by the illumination of the Holy Spirit) and outer (interpreted for public use) as of value to the church.

The clarity of scripture does not foresee a conflict between perspicuity, obscurity, and hermeneutics (the quest to search for meaning in obscure scripture). They complement each other. However, the reader must admit that the scripture is meant to be understood grammatically (literal form). The adage, “Contra factum nonvalet argumentum” (There are no adequate arguments against facts) applies. Since Scriptura Sui Ipsius Interpres (Scripture Clarifying Itself) is a principle of hermeneutics the salvific message and its efficacy depends on the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit steers clear and makes scripture accommodative to all who approach it with a clear mind. The preacher should not lie to himself or herself that he or she knows the Bible and doesn’t want to study it. The principle should be that the obscure and the clear should be pursued equally, therefore, the need to embrace both.

The preacher who refuses to study is not fit to preach! Are you a trained preacher? The confusions in churches today emanate from preachers who were shopkeepers yesterday and Bishops today! They have no mentorship or basic training of Scripture yet in leadership positions. They are Bishops but of one limping church or none at all. The scramble for supremacy has seen many calling themselves “Apostles” thinking apostleship is the highest calling in the list of hierarchy and one wonders, “When did the Bible list gifts in the order of supremacy?” Unfortunately, the lack of knowledge drives preachers into a spiritual stupor hence foggy callings and carnal churches.

V. Soli Deo Gloria:

“Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Ex 33:18-19.

“To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen”. Rom 16:27.

Soli Deo Gloria is a Latin word that means the Glory of God. The Scripture is explicit about the nature of God’s glory which he doesn’t share with anyone. He is a consuming fire (Heb.12:29) and a loving Father,

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6

The preachers are supposed to do all the above as honoring God. They must give God the Glory by bowing to Him with the full realization that they belong to God and the church belongs to Him. He can choose to terminate the preachers calling as He wills. Paul said,

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.” Col 3:23.

Whatever you do, preachers, do as unto the Lord. The 21st-century preachers’ egocentric personalities and continual usurpation of God’s glory attract His untold wrath. Increased Apostasy seen in churches today emanates from the love of self-glory. The language of preachers on the altar depicts how the church does not belong and glorifies the Lord as individuals.

Preachers are called to Prepare adequately before they go to teach for more will be demanded of them,

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” Jas 3:1.

Preachers who take positions for flesh gratification and a source of manipulation witnessed everywhere in the name of “man of God”, “prophet of the highest” etc. will find themselves going to the Lord empty-handed. On judgment day every secret work will be brought to light (Lk 18:17-18). Spiritual deceptions will be exposed (Rom 1:21-22; I Tim 6:5). To faithful preachers God says,

“Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.” Luke 19:17.

Blessed is the Lord (ba•ruch ha•Shem).

Prof Obed B. Chelogoi is a scholar of international repute. As an author and gifted teacher of the Bible, he has immensely touched many souls. He is currently the Chancellor of Joy Bible College and Seminary and a professor of theology.

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Article comments

Brian maiyo
Brian maiyo · 5 days ago
Quite a capturing book

Jacob koimur
Jacob koimur · 5 days ago
This article is one of its own in its teachings. Real theological theory that needs to be put into practice. I'm enlightened through this clauses. Keep up and keep us posted. God's blessings.

Andrew Chelogoi
Andrew Chelogoi · 6 days ago
Wow, that was very educative good job.