Da Vinci Code

Just imagine all of you today, that if you were at the end of your lives here on earth…what would be your hopes and prayers for your children’s future lives?

I asked someone that question recently, and she said that she hoped her children wouldn’t be aggressive judgemental or selfish…that they would be able to be able to see the grey in life rather than simply black and white…

She hoped that they would be wise, and really think carefully before making decisions in life, rather than jumping into some sort of trouble with both feet.

She said she would want them to have certain values:

she hoped they would see all others as equals,

that they would stick up for and defend the downtrodden and work for the good of those they loved and those around them.

She would wish for their dreams and visions to be fulfilled, for the gift of happiness to be theirs.

I wonder what your prayer would be for your children?

Something similar?

In our reading today Jesus makes a similar prayer to his Father, on behalf of his disciples, just before his death.

He wants no Draconian devils, (‘bear with me on this code word from a famous book out at present, which I’ll mention later)

He prays that no harshness or evil will befall them.

He asks that they may be one.

He doesn’t ask for them to be taken out of the world with all its pitfalls and dangers, but that God will protect them within it, especially from the evil one.

He prays for their happiness, that his joy would be complete in them.

He wants no lame saints (another code word from the same famous book)

In other words he wants his followers to have certain values, God’s values;

he prays that that his disciples will be pure and holy, marked out, consecrated for God’s work on earth

and that they would be true and speak truth, be honest before God, and hand God’s word down faithfully and accurately, to ensure a good grounding in the faith of those who would one day come to be believers.

The values that he speaks of are God’s values!

He spells it out

GOD HAS GIVEN HIM THE TRUTH TO HAND ON!

He prays:-

I have given them your word! ….

Sanctify them in your truth; your word is truth.

but what has also been passed on to us through the centuries until now, are also truths concerning Jesus…

who Jesus was,

and how he lived his life

and why he made such an impact on people.

So the disciples passed on the truth as they saw it and heard it from Jesus.

We have these truths and these values today.

If the world really lived by them, we’d have a far more perfect world in which to live.

Let’s say those truths and values are under attack today. People live to a large extent by them, but probably don’t recognise their source.

…ambitious authors and publishing companies are out to make a fast buck by destroying those truths; will that make them any less true?

No it won’t ! They will stand!

Let me sum up these truths in a nutshell!

13-3-2-21-1-1-8-5

Share those who final shave

You’ll find out later what the answer to this code means.

From the style of this code and the code clues you may recognise the book I’m talking about…

The Da Vinci Code…which one person recently described as the Gospel according to Mills and Boon.

It is a work of fiction, which many people today are believing is fact.

Millions of people throughout the world are flocking to see this film, having read the book. It has already become a blockbuster movie, and it’s having an impact on a great many people, and it is very persuasive.

It attacks the church, it makes false claims i.e. that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had a child together

It claims that Constantine, a pagan emperor, proposed a motion to upgrade Jesus to deity at a meeting of church bishops in a place called Nicea in 325 AD, and that Jesus became the Son of God by a narrow vote, and that before this meeting no-one considered him to be divine.

So how should we react when what we, as Christians, have believed and held dear is trashed for want of a better word?

One way is to ignore it totally, and become the ostrich with head buried in the sand.

Second is to demonstrate our anger with threats and bombs.

Thirdly we could protest, as with Jerry Springer the Opera, but that was slightly different, because the content was gross and offensive.

Fourthly we could read the book ourselves and be open and be challenged by it, and go from there to discover more about what we TRULY believe and why, THEN and only then tell others whatwe have found out?

The fourth option is the only way forward for people of faith today.

We must be able to stand firmly upon our beliefs and be prepared to say why we believe them to be true, or people will just laugh at us.

More importantly we must not miss such a valuable opportunity to witness to what we believe to be the truth as we see it, and give testimony about the living faith and the living Lord we hold dear.

There has been a shift in evangelism, since the time of Jesus!

Then the disciples went out into the streets and told people of their faith and demonstrated it in action.

Today it doesn’t seem quite the done thing to bring up Jesus into our conversation, and perhaps through such films as the Da Vinci Code, it may be that God is putting us in that position, so we will now be forced to speak out for our faith!

People are reaching out for truth! Who will give them it? You and I may be the only bible some people will ever read. We need to show people it is authentic!

At a debate at the Tyger, Tyger nightclub the other evening on the subject of the Da Vinci Code, Bishop Tom Wright looked at it this way; he said he hoped there would always be books and films like this, which give us an opportunity to talk about our faith, and that it would be a really sad day, if authors or directors stopped mentioning Jesus altogether. That’s when we really ought to be worried!

When St Paul is in prison some followers come to him with complaints about what is being taught by other disciples about Christ. Paul tells them as long as Christ is being proclaimed that is the main thing.

And yet some good has come out of this book.

I could name a few things, the main one being that

some have actually come to see that Jesus was an historic figure~ and not just a myth.

There is talk of the wonders of creation, of the marvels of proportions, design and order which reflected for me at least, a perfect Creator.

But let me give you a couple of responses to false claims made in the book///

Followers of Jesus believed Jesus to be divine, after his resurrection and called him Lord and Son of God long before this Council at Nicea.

In the first century the Roman governor, Pliny records that

‘the Christians were in the habit of meeting regularly before dawn on a fixed date to chant verses alternately among themselves in honour of Christ as God.

Numerous church fathers spoke of his divinity, long before Nicea:

Ignatius CA50-117 - ‘our God, Jesus Christ

Justin Martyr CA 100 -165 ‘He was God’

Melito of Sardis died CA 190 - ‘being God and likewise perfect man.

Iraneus CA130-200-‘He is holy Lord, the Wonderful, the Counsellor…and the Mighty God’

Clement of Alexandria CA150-215 – ‘He alone is both God and man.

Tertullian CA- 225- ‘For Christ is also God.’

Also the disciples of Jesus were sent to die in the arena for not giving the same high allegiance to the Emperor as they did to Jesus. They chose death rather than call a human emperor their Lord and God.

The Da Vinci Code, fails to produce a shred of credible evidence of an EARLIER form of Christianity in which no-one believed Jesus to be divine!

The Da Vinci Code also accuses that the Bible as we know it today was collated by Constantine, but the truth is that the kernel of the four gospels Matthew, Mark , Luke and John and the 13 letters of Paul had come to be accepted by around 130 AD and was placed on the same footing as the Old Testament between 170-220 AD.

There are fragments that demonstrate that 61 out of the 66 books of our bible were already treated as sacred 100 years before Constantine.

It is also quite clear just by comparing many original fragments of papyri and parchments, (which can be seen in many libraries and museums all around the world,) with manuscripts from later dates that it becomes clear that neither Constantine nor anyone else changed or embellished it.

Much more could be said if I had more time, about myth comparisons, the choice of Sunday for worship and so on, if you’re interested see me later.

So what is the truth?

What was handed down through the gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of Paul is that Jesus was believed to be both God and fully human.

It was only when the challenge came from wrong thinkers who wanted to suggest that Jesus was not human but a lesser God, that councils gathered to establish the real truth that needed to be handed down.

The truth about Jesus is so much more exciting than the myth.

Myths don’t have the power to change lives, and free people who are oppressed and bring life to those who are in darkness or in chains.

In fact returning to the code I put to you at first

13-3-2-21-1-1-8-5

Share those who final shave

We turn the anagram round to make a most profound statement from 1 John, today’s NT reading

IT IS THE ESSENTIAL TRUTH ~JESUS

(Whoever has the Son has life)

Conversely it says in our New Testament today

‘Whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life!’

‘And those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son.

There it is in a nutshell!

So beware of the darkness of the ‘con of man,’ (another code from the book)

Don’t let yourself be conned!

Light and truth has been given to us, let’s not end up in ignorance again.

As Christians we have a duty to speak up for truth , that is what Jesus prayed not only for his disciples but for those who would one day BECOME his disciples.

The Fast Bowler

Imagine a cricketer running down the field to bowl a fast bowl at the batsman.

Does the batsman reel with the shock of the ball hitting the wood causing him to drop his bat?

Should he not make the fast ball work for him by deflecting it to score a boundary.

So we should treat untruths today, which come hurtling our way.

We should make them work to our advantage, and be in a state of readiness to share the fact that the Son has come that we ALL should have life and truth and values and have them in abundance.

Authors like Dan Brown have given us a platform upon which to stand and proclaim and be heard!

A BAPTISM SERVICE FOLLOW ON

Just imagine all of you today, that if you were at the end of your lives here on earth…what would be your hopes and prayers for your children’s future lives?

Jesus has similar hopes and prayers for his disciples in today’s gospel

It’s important to pass truths on to our children, but it’s a very hard thing to do in this world of ours…to discern what truth is when the truth we have believed is challenged.

Your children will have important questions to ask you, will you be equipped to answer them?

How can we do the best for them?

Ostrich?

Militancy?

Protest?

Investigate, ask questions and share the truth we find?

YES

As a parent I’ve been in a similar situation recently, because of challenges put to me from my family reading the Da Vinci Code.

So far this week I’ve seen the film, I’m reading the book, I’ve been to a lecture, and I’m in the middle of reading a book which shows the opposite arguments.

I’d be quite happy to share with anyone afterwards what I found..I truly believe from my studies and from investigation and debate that this book is fiction and very little fact. I’ve preached on it this morning.

Let me put in a nutshell, what will really bring your child LIFE in all its fullness.

The Code …

He who has the Son has life…

In other words the one who believes in the example Jesus set for living, and in the truths he taught and who believes in having Jesus as a friend, guide and Lord of his life will know life and have life abundantly.

‘Whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life!’

‘And those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son.

We make promises today to help our children grow up in the faith of Christ and to follow his way ourselves.

Let us be seekers after truth and hand it on.