Sunday, November 27, 2022

Advent 1 - 2021

When, I wonder, did we forget how to wait for things?  None of us like waiting, for anything.  We want what we want, and we want it now!  And, if we are one of the 1% of the world who have enough money to buy pretty much anything we want, we tend to get it…now.  

A couple of years ago, Clare came back from visiting a friend’s house, extolling the virtues of the new Amazon 'Echo' device.  'It's fantastic', she said.  You can just ask it to play the radio, or for a summary of the news headlines, or what the weather will be!  I really fancy one for Christmas.'  Three days later, one arrived in our house!

The Season of Advent is designed specifically to be a time of waiting.  For the rest of our society, the New Year starts with a bang and fireworks…with a sense that we’ve ‘arrived’ at something important.  That’s odd, when you think about it.  Why should the simple turn of the Calendar be something to be celebrated with dancing in the street and all night parties?  But the Church, deliberately, counter-culturally, starts its new year with two important words…’Coming’ (which is what ‘Advent’ means)…and ‘Wait’.

Waiting is a central part of the Biblical witness.  The Israelites who fled from Egypt waited 40 years to reach their destination.  King David bought the land on which the Jerusalem temple would be built, but it was his son Solomon who built it.  The Jewish Exiles waited for 70 years to return from Babylon to Jerusalem.  And the followers of Jesus still wait for his complete return.  We wait.  We long for the fully realised Kingdom of God on earth, as it is in heaven.

It is in those periods of waiting that God does his work.  For the Israelites fleeing Egypt, it was the time when God taught them to trust in him and to obey his laws.  For the Exiles, it was the time of Daniel, and the powerful demonstrations of God’s power in the lion’s den, and in the fiery furnace of Shadrach, Mesach and Abegnego.  For followers of Jesus, these last two centuries have been a time of gradually building up of the household of God, the year by year spreading of God’s good news of Love from nation to nation.  Christianity is the largest religion (by followers on the planet) and this has taken time to achieve.  On a personal level, God works within us, during Advent, to dispel the myth that instant gratification will do anything at all to make us truly happy.

In Advent, we can’t help looking forward, because we see the way the world is now.  We yearn for God to put things right.  The writers of the Gospel’s shared in that sense of urgency.  Mark and Luke, for example, repeat a saying attributed to Jesus, which is (for me) one of the most intriguing lines of the New Testament: “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place”.   Jesus is reported to have promised that his second coming was SO imminent, that the current generation would not pass away before that great event happened.

Well, that didn’t happen!  This is one of those examples of where we need to understand the context of the writers of Scripture.  Mark was writing at a time when Jesus had been gone for perhaps 30 years, and the early church was feeling the iron boot of Rome on its neck. Peter was probably in prison, along with Paul.  Rome was becoming increasingly hostile towards both Jews and the new cult of the Christians.  

It should not surprise us that Mark, in reporting Jesus’ words from three decades before, has perhaps let poetry trump accuracy, as ancient writers often did.  He didn’t want to wait for God’s plan to be unfolded in God’s time.  Despite reporting that Jesus said ‘no-one will know the hour or the time of his coming’, Mark let his inner-optimist get the better of him…I suggest.

Or perhaps - Jesus is, in fact, already come, stealthily, in clouds.  That by his Holy Spirit, he is already among us.  That he is even now, continually, gathering his elect – his followers – from the ends of the earth.  Gathering us into churches, love-factories, for the spreading of his message of Love.

And, while we wait for the completion of the Reign of God, there is a very real sense in which God is already among us, already coming – in fact already here.

Every time an army lays down its weapons, and seeks peace - Jesus comes.

Every time politicians and scientists combine their efforts in unprecedented action to produce a vaccine – Jesus comes.

Every time a family is raised up out of fear or poverty Jesus comes.

Every time a lonely person finds a friend in a church social gathering, Jesus comes.  

Every time one of our church members phones another church member just to chat – to make a connection - Jesus comes.

Every time a hungry family is fed by the Beacon or PO9 Foodbanks, Jesus comes.

Every time homeless people sleeping in our town are treated like the human beings they truly are, Jesus comes.

Every time that an alcoholic, a gambler, a drug user turns up to one of our Pallant Centre support groups, and says ‘NO!’ to their addiction, Jesus comes. 

Every time an item of clothing is recycled through our shop, rather than added to the pile of human refuse, the planet is loved, and Jesus comes.

Every time a young person develops their human potential through Dynamo Youth Theatre, or a person with learning difficulties grows in confidence through Creating Chaos, or a teenager with mental health challenges is helped by MIND - Jesus comes.

Every time that SSAFA helps the poverty-stricken family of an armed services veteran, Jesus comes.

You see - signs of the kingdom are all around us.  

Our task, like an alert house-owner, is to keep awake.  To see the signs of the kingdom with open eyes, and join in with the activity of God, wherever it is found. Amen.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

The End of the World!

Texts:  Revelation 18.1–2, 21–23, 19.1–3, 9 and Luke 21.20–28

Today, the lectionary invites us to flirt with tales and prophecies of the end of days.  We are drawn by our readings into an imaginary future world in which the great city of Babylon is destroyed, and in which the “son of man will come in a cloud in great power and glory”.  How can we get to the heart and the truth of what all this rich imagery is telling us.

Reading the Bible literally is a risky path to take.  You may remember the name Harold Camping, for example.  Mr Camping was an American preacher and Christian radio host who predicted that the world would end on the 21st of May 2011 (at 6pm in the afternoon, incidentally).  Many of his followers were so convinced that they sold up their homes and ploughed all their savings into the cost of the advertising campaign, to persuade Americans of Mr Camping’s message.  Sadly, for them, the world didn’t end – and they were left penniless and often in great debt.

You see, the problem with reading the Bible literally is that this is not what its original writers intended, by and large.  The ancients used myths as lenses through which we can see our own paths to transformation and growth.  What do we mean by the word ‘ myth’?  Scholar Marcus Borg offers an interesting definition.  He says, “Myth is stories about the way things never were, but always are”.  Wise people read myths as insights about the human condition, which have the power to transform us.    Consider these words by the New Testament scholar Dominic Crossan, “My point…is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally”.

So what are we to make of the rich imagery with which the lectionary confronts us today.  I doubt you would be very happy if I did a line by line analysis of both passages!  So, let’s just take the Revelation passage as an example of how wise people should read the Scriptures.  

By the time John was writing the Book of Revelation, the city of Babylon had been dead as a political and economic force for at least 300 years.  Some historians think it was more like 600 years. So when John uses imagery of Babylon being cast into the sea because, I quote, “your merchants were the magnates of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery” there is no way John is talking about the literal city of Babylon (whose dusty ruins you can visit for yourself in modern-day Iraq).  Babylon, for John, is rather a figurative city, a myth which stands for all systems, economic and political, which crush the life out of ordinary people.  

John is painting a picture, not making a specific prediction, of a world in which mighty merchants and those who deceive through, for example, the sorcery of propaganda will be replaced by what John calls, ‘the marriage feast of the Lamb’.  Again, John is not literally saying that humanity will be invited to sit around a table, watching a Lamb getting married!  What he is saying is that God’s purpose is for all humanity to be united with God, through God’s way of life as lived out in Jesus, also known as the Lamb.  The ‘marriage’ of which John speaks is the marriage of humanity with the purposes of God.

Rather than a prophecy of some fictitious ‘end-time’, the Book of Revelation is an invitation for us to take an inward journey, into ourselves.  We are asked to contemplate what kind of person we aspire to be.  Do we want to be numbered with the ‘merchants who were the magnates of the earth’?  Or do we want to be those very being is united, like in a marriage, to God’s purposes?  We have to ask ourselves how much longer we will collude with the world’s false promises (like ‘owning new things will make you happy’).  

There’s an old acrostic which the early Christians used.  It was the word ROMA – the Italian name for Rome.  Early Christians used those four letters, R.O.M.A. to stand for ‘radix omnium malorum avaritia’. It means ‘ avarice is the root of all evil’.  Marcus Borg explains, ‘Roma - empire - is the embodiment of avarice, the incarnation of greed. That’s what empire is about. The embodiment of greed in domination systems is the root of all evil’.  Wise Christians are invited to examine themselves for avarice, and other ‘sins of the flesh’ to seek out and destroy any internal attitudes which steer us away from the goal of living in love with God.

You see, God loves us already and has always loved us, from before the dawn of time.  The Christian life is not about believing certain things about God, or trusting particular words about God.  That would be salvation by syllables.  Rather, it’s about perceiving what is fundamentally true, at the heart of God – that God loves us already, and then seeking to live our lives in that relationship.  The Christian life is about waking up to and intentional choice to live in an ever-deepening relationship with God.

If we really were to take God’s transforming Way seriously, then there would truly be, in the words of today’s Gospel reading, “signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea…”.  The end of the world of man may well involve momentous events – wars over scarce resources on a dying planet, at the very least.  But the kind of upheaval which Jesus describes is not literal.  The signs in the sky, and the roaring of the sea which he describes are signs of the spiritual transformation of humanity.  The Son of Man will come among us ‘as on a cloud’ – stealthily, silently, into every human heart – and as we saw on Sunday, one person at a time.  The transformation will be no less momentous, as every human heart is gradually, gently, loving, turned towards the purposes of God, so that every knee will bow, and every tongue proclaim that Jesus is Lord.

But don’t expect to witness any avenging angels hurling the archaeological ruins of Babylon into the sea like a millstone!  Amen.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Christ the King - saving us one at a time

This week, the world’s population has reached 8 billion people, despite the increased deaths from Covid.  Global temperatures continue to rise, and are fast reaching the tipping point when the ice-sheets of the poles will melt, and low lying land (like Havant!) is likely to be submerged by rising sea-levels.  Human kind has not yet learned how to solve its differences except by violence and threat. A billion people survive on less than a dollar a day...scratching round in rubbish tips and refugee camps for something to eat.

Have you ever wondered how many people is a billion people? Let me give you some idea of the scale....Imagine, if you can, a line of 1billion people, standing 1 yard apart. If I were to get in my car, and drive along the line of people at 60 miles per hour for one hour, I would pass 105,600 people. Do you know how long I would have to drive at 60 miles per hour, all day, all night, without stopping, to pass by 1 billion people? 1 YEAR and 29 days.

That's how many people live on this planet in abject poverty or in refugee camps, reliant entirely on aid agencies just to survive from one day to the next.  It’s sobering, isn’t it…especially for us, whose daily challenges with the cost of living crisis means choosing to turn down our thermonstat, or buying one less macchiato-cappuccino a week.

In a little while, as bread and wine are consecrated, we will remind ourselves that Christ claims dominion over all creation. We will remind ourselves what His Kingdom is like: a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace. How very different that Kingdom is from the one we experience!  How our hearts cry out, when we pray ‘thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven!

St Luke was very conscious of the kind of kingdom into which Jesus came. He frames his entire narrative in terms of Kingship, as we shall hear again through Advent and Christmas. Chapter 1: "In the days of King Herod of Judaea...' Chapter 2: " this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree". Chapter 3: "In the fifteenth year of Tiberias Caesar's reign". Luke framed his story by reference to three rulers...but then, at the end, as we just heard in our Gospel reading, he places Jesus on his cross with the massively ironic legend "King of the Jews" over his head.

But Luke also contrasts the three great rulers with three simple people. In his first three chapters, the references to Herod, Augustus and Tiberius are contrasted with Mary, Zechariah and Simeon: all of whom proclaim a different kind of Kingdom. These are people who, as Rowan Williams says, are 'lifted up by a God who snubs and turns away the powerful'. In Jesus, God has 'turned upside down the assumptions of the world'.  He ‘casts down the mighty from their seats, and exalts the humble and meek’, as Mary sings in the Magnificat.  Jesus presents us with a God who is nothing like the God of our power-corrupted imaginations.

It is perhaps during his trial that we get the clearest sense of what Jesus believed about power. Throughout the Gospel of Mark, for example, Jesus steadfastly resists any attempt to be named as either God's Son, or the Messiah - let alone the King of Kings. He silences the demoniacs, the healed leper, and even Simon Peter when they identify him. But, there does come a point, a crucial point, where he permits himself to be revealed. During his trial, the High Priest invites the prisoner to incriminate himself: "Are you the Christ", he asks, "the Son of the Blessed One?". Jesus answers with the plainest of plain words: "I am". Why then? Why at that point?

Here I turn again to Rowan Williams for help. In his book 'Christ on Trial' Williams comments that "Jesus before the High Priest has no leverage in the world; he is denuded of whatever power he might have had. Stripped and bound before the court, he has no stake in how the world organises itself. He is definitively outside the system of the world's power and the language of power. He is going to die, because that is what the world has decided. It is at this moment and this moment only that he speaks plainly about who he is. He names himself with the name of the God of Israel, 'I am'…"  (Williams, 2000, Christ on Trial, p.7).

Jesus death on the cross has many layers of meaning, of course. But one of them that we must not miss is that by his death, Jesus unmasks the Kingdoms of this world. He demonstrates that the myth of redemptive violence – the idea that problems can be solved with weapons - is nothing but a mask for evil.  Jesus shows emperors, religious fundamentalists and dictators in their true light...bully-boys, whose ultimate achievement through violence is the death of a simple, loving man, and the nailing of God himself onto a cross.  It's as though Jesus says, "this is what happens when you live with the lie of redemptive end up squeezing God out, onto the margins, onto a hill outside the City."

But Jesus redeems even such marginalisation. There, outside the City wall, pushed away by the State, he is still at work. He still works to redeem creation. To the thief beside him he turns and promises "Today you will be with me in Paradise". It's as though having failed to persuade the State to embrace a different way, Jesus switches tactics. If the State will not bow to the love and just mercy of God, then Jesus will start from a different point...he will carry out his redemption one thief at a time, one person at a time.

And that finally is where we come in to this story. There is not much that you and I can hope to achieve in changing the State we are in. We can't hope to halt the armies of the world, as they pound each other to dust. We can't hope to shift the priorities of a world economic system which can find £100 billion dollars to bail out the banks, but which can't help those billion people in a line outside our door. But like Jesus, with the thief on the Cross, it turns out that we can do something, after all. One person at a time. One life at a time. We can love our neighbour. We can sponsor a child - just talk to World Vision. We can give the gift of food to a family using the Beacon Foodbank. We can donate to the work of this parish in supporting charities like SSAFA, Mind, and Alcoholics Anonymous.  

We can continue to live with the false myth that the state we are in can be improved through violence and coercion - what we might call the 'myth of redemptive violence', or we can wake up to the call of Christ the King of ALL kings, and embrace a different kind of kingship altogether.  Amen

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Duty and Truth

 "England expects that every man will do his duty”.  So signaled Admiral Lord Nelson to the fleet at Trafalgar.  This was during the same war in which the standard of the Havant Volunteers, hanging above our heads, was raised.

But what is ‘duty’?  Duty is that obligation we owe to each other, as fellow citizens, in any community.  It is the action we perform, regardless of our personal desires.  It is an action which puts the needs of our community, or our country, above our personal wants.

As such, ‘duty’ has a rather old fashioned ring about it, to our modern ears.  We live in a society in which personal happiness and personal fulfillment has become the primary goal.  To the modern, western mind, it often doesn’t matter very much who else suffers, or who else is living in poverty, as long as I have everything I need.  As long as I am happy. As an example of this kind of thinking, here’s a quote from Grant Cordone, a self-help guru and business advisor.  He says ‘Success is your duty, obligation and responsibility’.  He is referring of course to personal success. 

But of course, the search for personal happiness, success and wealth is never a pathway to the building of a society.  Building society requires an instinct for self-sacrifice among all its members.

On Friday, incidentally on Armistice Day, we witnessed the re-taking of Kherson by the Ukrainian Army, from the presently terrorist state of Russia.  This would not have happened if Ukrainian citizens had neglected their duty.  If the Ukrainian volunteers had each decided that their personal happiness and safety was more important to them, if they had decided to flee to Europe with their families, then we would never have seen Friday’s victory come to pass.  If the Western nations had not done their duty, and stood by Ukraine by supplying them, Kherson would still be in Russian hands today.

We must remember, however, that the young men and women of the Russian army are also doing their duty, as they see it.  They have been systematically lied to, by their government.  They have been told that Ukrainians are Nazis who, with the support of the Western powers, are about to invade Mother Russia.  So they, too, fight out of duty to their country, albeit misguided.

And this is of course where duty has its limits.  For duty to be holy, righteous and purposeful, it must itself be subject to a higher authority still.  Duty must be subservient to Truth.  Any person who prepares to do their duty must first do the hard work of working out what is true about the situation they face.  We live in a post-truth world, in which propaganda, and so-called ‘fake-truth’ is harnessed for political ends or personal gain.  And it is hard, indeed, to disentangle the half-truths from the lies.  How can a Russian soldier, for example, know whether his duty is misplaced, if he does not have access to the Truth?  How, then, can anyone’s call to duty be assessed, for Truthfulness?

Jesus Christ said that he was the way, the life, and the Truth.  In other words, he taught that by following his way of life, and his teachings, we would be led by his Spirit into all Truth.  Christians, then, have a yardstick by which to judge the various truth-claims with which we are bombarded, by the political maelstrom around us.  So, whenever a truth-claim is uttered by a national leader, the Christian holds that claim up against the teaching of Christ – to discern whether or not there is a duty to be followed.

And so, the Christian asks themselves, ‘how does this truth-claim equate to the wisdom of Christ’.  Let’s say, for example, there are competing claims about immigrants ‘invading’ our shores.  How do those truth-claims stand up against the Bible’s teaching about giving hospitality to the stranger? Let’s say that there are political forces who want to reduce the income of those who rely on the State for essential support.  How does that policy stand up against the Bible’s teaching on caring for the poorest in our community?  Let’s say that there are political and economic forces who want to destroy the Amazon, or keep pumping carbon into our atmosphere.  How does that stand up against the Bible’s teaching that humankind has a duty to take care of the Earth?  Let’s imagine that a call to arms is issued to the members of 16 Regiment here today, to take up their weapons and fight against a foe.  How will that call stand up against the Bible and Christianity’s teaching about what is, or is not, a just war?

These are not easy questions, and there are no easy answers.  But in general, I observe, Western society has lost its touch-stone, its ability to discern right from wrong, because it has lost touch with the teachings of Christ.  For me to do my duty, in every circumstance of life, I need to know with clarity and truth what that duty is.  The teachings of Christ give me a lens, or perhaps a stained glass window, through which to discern what is, and what is not, my duty.

I am a Canon of Cape Coast in Ghana, West Africa.  I have seen with my own eyes the slave-trading fortresses built by the British army of yesteryear.  I’ve seen the putrid dungeons in which slaves were guarded by British soldiers, who all believed they were doing their duty.  I’ve seen the first church in Ghana, built over the entrance to those very dungeons.  I know that not every duty carried out by our own soldiers, and our own clergymen, could be described as springing from the pure Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Today, we remember, and we give thanks, for all those who have done their duty for their country before us.  But as we give thanks for the duty displayed by the fallen of the past, and we pray for the service-men and women of the present, let us also pray for the wisdom to discern among the lies and propaganda of the world where our duty lies – our duty to our community, to our nation, and to our God.  Amen.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

SSGG: The Narrow Way

Texts: 2 Thessalonians 2.1–5,13–17 and Luke 20.27–38

According to many social scientists, we now live in the era of ‘post-truth’.  By that term, they mean that we live in a time when truth is no longer valued by those with power or influence.  What matters, instead, is winning the argument – and it doesn’t matter what lies you have to tell, as long as you win.  This week, for example, the work of one Richard D. Hall has been exposed by the BBC.  This is a man, from Wales, who makes his living by writing books and speaking at conferences of conspiracy theorists.  Among his many outlandish lies, is the disgusting claim that the bombing at the Manchester Arena, a few years ago, was staged.  In his narrative, all the victims were actors.  The trouble with fake news of this kind, is that there are always just enough people who are gullible enough to believe it, and to line the pockets of conmen like Richard D. Hall.

We only have to look at the War in Ukraine to see the effect of living in a post-truth world.  Massive lies – or fake news - have been told to the Russian people by their Government – lies about the intentions of the West to ‘wipe out Russia’.  These lies – this propaganda - has enabled the Russian Government to launch its war against Ukraine.  But why?  What is gained from these lies?  For the answer to that question, I suspect we would have to take a look at the bank accounts of the Russian’s weapon manufacturers, and the bank accounts of the politicians who have supported the war.  The question always to be asked of any ‘fake-truth’ claims is:  ‘who is benefiting from this lie?  Who is lining their pockets?  Or even just scratching a living?’.  There is money to be made by pedalling lies.

Incidentally, there is a lovely internet meme doing the rounds at the moment, in which the Flat Earth Society is said to have accidentally posted a claim that they have members ‘all around the globe!’

By calling this the ‘Post-truth era’, as social scientists do, we may be forgiven for thinking this is a new phenomenon.  But, of course, nothing could be further from the truth.  There are many examples of lies being used for political or religious gain in the Bible – by all sorts of people - and, we have one before us, this morning.  Look at the opening two verses of today’s reading from Paul’s 2nd letter to the Thessalonians.  It’s a long sentence – as Paul’s sentences often are – so let’s break it down:

“As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him…”  Paul starts this sentence by saying that he wants to address the topic of Jesus’ second coming, and about what is called the ‘Parousia’ - the idea (promoted by Paul himself) that when Jesus comes, we will be gathered up to meet with him in the air. 

This is an odd-enough idea in itself – especially in the light of Jesus’ own teaching about heaven in the Gospel.  However, let’s not dwell on that, for now.  Let’s read on…

“…we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed…” Paul wants to comfort his readers in Thessalonica. He wants them not to be alarmed about these stories about the Parousia, which are obviously circulating.  How are they circulating?  Let’s read on…

“…either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.”  I’ve emphasised those words ‘as though from us’ because that is the heart of this sentence.  The clear inference is that someone has been either writing, or speaking, or rumouring to the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord is already here…and they’ve been pretending to be representing Paul!  The Thessalonians have been subject to fake news.  For what purpose, we cannot say…but clearly some false teachers have been spreading fake news…perhaps to gain influence, or perhaps to gain wealth by asking for offerings to support their own false ministry.

Paul is anxious to correct this fake news.  He points them to other signs, or things which must take place before Jesus comes again. He predicts rebellion, and the setting up of an idol in the Temple of Jerusalem.  (Incidentally, some scholars think this refers to an actual attempt by the Emperor Caligula to put a statue of himself in the Holy of Holies).  Paul reminds them, in verse 5, that he has already taught them these things, face to face.  He says, “Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was with you?”

Instead, Paul encourages the Thessalonians to remain steadfast and firm in the salvation offered by God, and in the traditions that they were taught by Paul.  Verse 15:  Hold fast to the traditions that you were taught…” He concludes by praying that Jesus himself will give comfort and hope, and strength to carry on “in every good work and word”. 

How might we sum up this bit of Bible Study?  And what might it say to us? 

Paul is worried about his flock – who are being lured away from their traditions, and their faith, by lurid promises of the false teachers of fake truth.  He is concerned that they are being distracted from the process of “sanctification by the Spirit, through belief in the truth” (v.13) and are instead running after the exciting promise of being lifted up in the air to meet the Lord.  He knows that such distractions won’t be good for them. 

You see, that’s what happens when spiritual visions and a yearning for spiritual experiences starts to dominate the lives of Christians.  When practicing the Christian faith becomes all about ‘me getting closer to God’ or ‘me experiencing God’ then it loses its essential focus.  The Christian who only wants the religious experience is the one who only comes to church at Christmas, for the chance to feel nice and holy for a while.  Or they are the kind of Christian who treks from festival to festival in search of a religious high.  Instead, the essential focus of Christian faith, described by Paul, is this:

First, salvation by God’s grace.  Secondly, sanctification (that is - being made ever more holy), through belief (or trust) in truth.  That leads ultimately to the obtaining of glory – or heaven as we might call it – with Jesus Christ.  In the meantime, while that process of sanctification goes on, throughout our lives, Paul counsels his readers to hold fast to the traditions they were taught, and praying for the strength required for good works and good words.

It’s a clear path.  Salvation, through grace.  Sanctification, through holiness and truth.  Lives of good works and words, leading to glory with Jesus Christ.  If anyone asks you what is the true path, the narrow way of the Christian – then this should be your answer:  SSGG. Salvation.  Sanctification.  Good works and word.  Glory.  Anything else is just fake news.