One morning, after we had finished Matins, our morning prayer to the glory of the Lord God Almighty, the holy father monk called me aside.
Brother monk, I have read with great interest your thoughts on conversion as the chief work of the Holy Spirit. I particularly like the way in which you presented His work in centuries past, from the time of our Lord Jesus Christ when He was on the earth, to the conversion of the English beginning was the ministry of blessed Augustine, our first Bishop, and through the ages up to our time, today.
I am humbled by your words, reverend father.
Would you then honor us this evening with a small presentation of your work?
After Evensong, the monks gathered in the great library to hear the words of brother monk, whose name is Peter.
I am honored to speak to you, my fellow brothers. Now, let me humbly present the work the Holy Spirit has guided me on this most wonderful journey.
In eternity past, when there was only God, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, when nothing had been created, even before the foundations of the world, He knew your name! You see, dear brothers in Christ, He planned exactly when you would be called, exactly the century, exactly the place, exactly the time and circumstances of your being called to believe in His Son, His One and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. And you know this in your heart, what the great Apostle Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Ephesians in chapter one, verses 4-5:
“According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world…having predestinated us into the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of His will.”
It is what we know as God’s “Plan of the Ages,” and that being His Plan of Redemption and Eternal Salvation, which is in Christ the Lord. All human history begins here in His Plan. Only the Arch-Enemy, the Devil has put it into the mind of man, even believers, evil, wicked thoughts contrary to God’s written word!
And the world has bought into these fantastic theories that prop man up in his very fertile imagination every heresy foisted upon the Church, even up to our own time. To wit, note where the fanatics of the myth of “evolution” strain in every conceivable way to propagate the lies and error of the evolution of man: from the from the mud, they say, an accident happened, a random act of pure “chance.” And from a spark, simple cells just roaming around in the seas, combed with ‘other simple roaming’ cells, and on and on, more and more, years upon years, the right conditions on an earth that came into being by a “big bang,” why, given millions and millions of years, the apes came from an ancient animal, and then came the hoax of an upright being called “cave man,” then, modern man. And so, if all is just a product of pure chance, and there is no plan for our future when we die, well then, best you all eat, drink, and be merry today, for that’s it, there is no more! Then there is no heaven, there is no hell, there is no kingdom, there is no God. Yet, we hear, there are many gods and many religions, and good people everywhere. So then, all are equal, all valid. And if they do believe (a murky, hazy belief of sorts), then all people will be in heaven in the end; after all, there are many ways to God, right?
Let’s map it out.
Now, before the “Fullness of Time,” when the Second Person of the Holy Trinity came out of heaven and was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary, Gentiles and Jews of the first four thousand years of history since the creation of Adam, the first man on earth, were saved by the Holy Spirit, according to the calling of God, the Holy Father. Not all, but many. He came and went as the winds blows. He was not here permanently, as He has been since the start of the “Church Age,” Pentecost A.D. 33.
Therefore, we see this principle at work when Jesus walked the roads and paths of Judea, and Samaria, and Galilee, and the regions round about. The principle is thus: the calling by the Father; the conviction, change, born again to belief, many coming to faith out of thousands of people who came in contact with Jesus. It was His power, like that of the Holy Spirit, God, who does this most holy of works according to His plan.
The work of God, the power of calling His people was at work with John the Baptist, when, in John 1;29, he declared, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.” Many were around, and the next day, two disciples were called, and followed Him..One was named Andrew. And when he found his brother, Simon Peter, the action of belief took hold, for he said, “We have found the Messiah…the Christ.” And the same thing happened with Phillip and Nathanael, who said, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel”-(John 1:37-49). From many, four. And the mystery of who He calls, and His power to convict and seal forever plays on.
Then, Peter’s famous confession. We pick up the account in Matthew 16, verses 13-18:
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” After many answers came forward, Jesus asked them again: “But whom say ye that I am?”
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
Called; believed; act. That time; that place; God. These were Jews, but there were also Gentiles.. Case in point, the Roman centurion.
Also at work: seeing and hearing, but not hearing, lest they would come to believe. The Isaiah Prophecy was at work! And After Matthew 12, because of this, Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables.
And what about the many examples in the Gospels when Jesus cast out evil spirits (demons-fallen angels) who were inside people? The Scriptures tell us that all who stood by were amazed at seeing this Man who had control even over the demons. And the Gospels tell us that these evil, unclean spirits yelled something most profound before they left the body they possessed. And although these accounts are silent as to the reaction of the people and rulers when they must have also heard with their own ears what these demons said to Jesus, I firmly belive that God would use even a demon to have some come to faith, for Jesus, God, is causing the action.
“And when He was come to the other side of the country of the Gergasenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?”
Even the demons knew who Jesus was, and yet the religious leaders of Israel would not believe.., pretending not to hear. Why? Because they were not chosen by God to believe, but to do the things against Jesus and the people. But, no doubt, they did hear,”thou Son of God!”
Luke 4:33-37 is an account of Jesus in Capernaum of Galilee:
“And in the synagogue there was a man, which had the spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us?
I know thee, who thou art; the Holy One of God.”
They heard a voice call out, “the Holy One of God.”
No matter what great signs He did or what they heard in their ears, they would not believe…no matter what!
They saw His power and authority to command the unclean spirits to come out of the man. They were amazed! His fame grew. But they did not hear the words of the demons. And if they heard them, it was dismissed right away, lest hearing and seeing they would come to believe. But they would not; could not, for this they were born.
I believe that this was one of the reasons why so many times Jesus cast out demons of people among the multitudes…that many would hear loud, understandable words coming from inside the person demon possessed, and that these words would stick!
And so it was too with the English people in the 8th Century A.D., when God called the blessed Pope Gregory to send Augustine to Britain to convert the people to the Christian faith. God called them by His Holy Spirit using a man of God to lay the seed.
May these words, my dear brothers, warm your hearts and be of help in your walk of faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.