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Sunday, February 24, 2008

First Clement: Wonderful Early Christian Sermon on Obedience and Following Christ

One of the earliest preserved Christian writings after the New Testament is a document known as First Clement. It was written from Rome, possibly at about the same the time that the Apostle John was on the Isle of Patmos. It's a beautiful epistle, one that resonates marvelously with modern LDS teachings, which I believe to be at least partly the result of a divine Restoration of the ancient Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here is one passage from 1 Clement 33:4 to 35:5. Warning: based on what our modern critics say about LDS teachings, it's pretty clear that the author of First Clement was also a non-Christian cultist.
Above all, as the most excellent and exceeding great work of His intelligence, with His sacred and faultless hands He formed man in the impress of His own image.

For thus saith God, Let us make man after our image and after our likeness. And God made man; male and female made He them.

So having finished all these things, He praised them and blessed them and said, Increase and multiply.

We have seen that all the righteous were adorned in good works. Yea, and the Lord Himself having adorned Himself with worlds rejoiced.

Seeing then that we have this pattern, let us conform ourselves with all diligence to His will; let us with all our strength work the work of righteousness.

The good workman receiveth the bread of his work with boldness, but the slothful and careless dareth not look his employer in the face.

It is therefore needful that we should be zealous unto well doing, for of Him are all things: since He forewarneth us saying, Behold, the Lord, and His reward is before His face, to recompense each man according to his work.

He exhorteth us therefore to believe on Him with our whole heart, and to be not idle nor careless unto every good work.

Let our boast and our confidence be in Him: let us submit ourselves to His will; let us mark the whole host of His angels, how they stand by and minister unto His will.

For the scripture saith, Ten thousands of ten thousands stood by Him, and thousands of thousands ministered unto Him: and they cried aloud, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Sabaoth; all creation is full of His glory.

Yea, and let us ourselves then, being gathered together in concord with intentness of heart, cry unto Him as from one mouth earnestly that we may be made partakers of His great and glorious promises.

For He saith, Eye hath not seen and ear hath not heard, and it hath not entered into the heart of man what great things He hath prepared for them that patiently await Him.

How blessed and marvelous are the gifts of God, dearly beloved!!

Life in immortality, splendor in righteousness, truth in boldness, faith in confidence, temperance in sanctification! And all these things fall under our apprehension.

What then, think ye, are the things preparing for them that patiently await Him? The Creator and Father of the ages, the All holy One Himself knoweth their number and their beauty.

Let us therefore contend, that we may be found in the number of those that patiently await Him, to the end that we may be partakers of His promised gifts.

But how shall this be, dearly beloved? If our mind be fixed through faith towards God; if we seek out those things which are well pleasing and acceptable unto Him; if we accomplish such things as beseem His faultless will, and follow the way of truth, casting off from ourselves all unrighteousness and iniquity, covetousness, strifes, malignities and deceits, whisperings and backbitings, hatred of God, pride and arrogance, vainglory and inhospitality.
There is an emphasis on our relation to God, that we are in his image, that we can and must choose to follow Him, and that he offers us blessings beyond imagination in the splendor of eternal life if we will follow Him and obey. But all that talk about obedience and good works is not teaching that we earn salvation. Rather, as I've explained many times here and elsewhere, we obey and strive and follow and endure "that we may be partakers of His promised gifts" - that we might comply with the terms of His covenant to qualify for the infinite gift of eternal life, the gift of grace through Jesus Christ our Lord. It's utter cultic evil to some of our modern adversaries, but it's pure early Christian doctrine, now restored.

There is much more of great value in this early writing. Enjoy!

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a Catholic, I see it harmonizing beautifullly with Catholic teaching. I have read Clement and he is very Catholic. Perhaps you are addressing Evangelicals who condemn a focus on works?

Anonymous said...

Yes, from what I've read of Jeff's posts and other LDS sources, that is exactly what is being referred to here. Although, it isn't necessarily Evangelicals, but anyone who would preach a doctrine in which the works of the individual are considered insignificant. What we do DOES have an impact on our salvation, but many detractors take that as blasphemy and feel that saying as much means we are "earning" salvation tend to turn a blind eye when the scriptures say this as well. Unfortunate, but all to often true.

pepektheassassin said...

Marvelous. A beautiful post.

NM said...

I like this sermon given by Clement. I don't know anything about Clement (and I feel I ought to), but I kinda like what he wrote =)

Jeff, I didn't see (from the excerpt) where Clement made any distinction between grace and works =/

Anonymous said...

1Clem 58:1
Let us therefore be obedient unto His most holy and glorious Name,
thereby escaping the threatenings which were spoken of old by the
mouth of Wisdom against them which disobey, that we may dwell safely,
trusting in the most holy Name of His majesty.

Anonymous said...

1Clem 58:2
Receive our counsel, and ye shall have no occasion of regret. For as
God liveth, and the Lord Jesus Christ liveth, and the Holy Spirit,
who are the faith and the hope of the elect, so surely shall he, who
with lowliness of mind and instant in gentleness hath without
regretfulness performed the ordinances and commandments that are
given by God, be enrolled and have a name among the number of them
that are saved through Jesus Christ, through whom is the glory unto
Him for ever and ever. Amen.

Andrew Miller said...

Jeff,

You mean that what we do actually matters? Dang. Clement was a heretic!

NM said...

Anonymous, (3:43 AM & 3:44 AM, February 25, 2008)

Were the two comments you made directed at my saying that I couldn't see (from the excerpt) where Clement made any distinction between grace and works?

Even if it wasn't, your (added) comments from Clement were great =)

Kathleen said...

Our "works" are impossible without grace and truth.

Anonymous said...

Our works *are* possible without grace and truth. They are merely meaningless without them...

Anonymous said...

At least they have no meaning beyond our short lives and the lives they touch that is...

Bobby said...

I love reading works written by the Apostolic Fathers and other early Church leaders, I mean, what a crazy coincidence that so much of what they wrote actually aligns with modern LDS doctrine... (to all those who did not detect the sarcasm... it's not just a coincidence...)

erelis said...

I love reading works written by the Apostolic Fathers and other early Church leaders, I mean, what a crazy coincidence that so much of what they wrote actually aligns with modern LDS doctrine...

Crazy cultists, those Early Church Fathers were.