first thing that must be said about the Christian Church and its Work of Salvation, is that although it was begun by Christ
through His earthly Ministry and more especially by His Sacrifice on Calvary, it has been continued in the world through the
work of the Holy Ghost. Ever since She descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost, She has overshadowed and guided the Church,
and it is through Her ongoing labours that the same Work of Salvation continues to this day. This is made plain in the fifth
segment of the “Summary of Our Beliefs”, which reads;
We believe in the One Holy, Orthodox
and Catholic Church founded by Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, led initially by the apostles of Christ, and ever
after by their anointed successors and which teaches His Way of Salvation and shall continue to do so until He comes again.
This makes it quite clear that although
Christianity has been split into many different denominations over the centuries, in God’s eyes and also in ours, there
is only One Church in the World. There may be divisions
within it. Some of its leaders may teach only a few of the Teachings of Christ, or offer only a small fragment of the knowledge
that Christ came to reveal to mankind, but the ONE Church continues. It was founded by Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit who
descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost and She has never left it since that time. Even before He was crucified, Christ had
promised to send Her to them as we read in St John 16; 7;
Nevertheless I tell
you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if
I depart, I will send Her unto you
He confirmed this promise six weeks
later, immediately before His Ascension, as St Luke tells us in Acts 1; 4-5.
And, (Jesus) being
assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem,
but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall
be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days
We may well ask what would have happened
if the Apostles had disobeyed this instruction. What if they had returned to Galilee immediately
after the Ascension? Would Christ’s promise still have been kept? The answer is almost certainly “Yes”,
for clearly the power of the Holy Spirit was needed to bring the Church into being, but Christ had a very good reason for
telling them to remain at Jerusalem.
The Feast of Pentecost was one of the three great Feasts of the Jews prescribed by Moses, who had ordered
that all Jews should travel to Jerusalem on these three occasions. Not all Jews attended on all three feasts, but vast numbers did, and although Passover was
undoubtedly the best attended, Pentecost (The feast of the first fruits) was a
time when the City was almost as crowded. The two key events in the founding of Christianity couldn’t have been better
timed for maximum publicity. Christ’s death and Resurrection took place over the Passover period, and the Descent of
the Holy Spirit happened at Pentecost. Virtually all of those that returned home from each of these festivals took back at
least some knowledge of these marvellous events to their own lands, and thus helped to prepare those nations to receive the
message of Christianity.
Had the Apostles not remained in Jerusalem,
the initial spectacular spread of Christianity may have been much less dramatic, but one thing the Apostles had learned from
their time with Christ was that if He said to do something, it paid to obey. So when He said; “Do not depart from Jerusalem,” they obeyed Him and Obedience has always been one
of the fundamental requirements for any who would follow in their steps. Their successors learned from the Apostles, and even
today, obedience to one’s Spiritual Superior or Spiritual Guide is the basic requirement for spiritual progress. This
is one of the reasons why it is so important that those who lead a Church should not only be totally sincere, but also that
they are able to claim to act with Christ’s authority. And this means that they must have been appointed by the Apostles,
either directly or indirectly through their successors. Apostolic Succession, as we call it is the pre-requisite for Apostolic
Authority. One who has been directly or indirectly anointed by the Apostles, and who thus acts with the authority of Christ,
may also thereby claim the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as a right despite his/her personal inadequacies. And never yet
has Her Divine Majesty failed to provide such guidance, as it is needed.
Ward’s theology makes this quite plain. As successors of the Apostles we have a right to Divine
Inspiration, and if we ask for it we will received it, even as Christ promised. (St.
Matthew 7; 7) Those who do not even claim such authority offer their followers
merely human wisdom at best. At worst they play no part in the work of Salvation or in the Church that He founded.
In this section of the Summary we acknowledge that the key purpose of the Church is to teach the Way
of Salvation to all people. When Christ was instructing His Apostles after His Resurrection, this was one of the last commands
He gave them, and it is indeed the key command for all of subsequent Christianity. It is found in St Matthew 28; 18 –
20, where we read:
And Jesus came and
spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them
to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Christ’s statement is brief but each phrase is pregnant with meaning. The part printed in bold
type is the key section for the purpose of this discussion, though the entire passage is significant. It describes the Way of Salvation as consisting
of “all things whatsoever I have commanded you”, and this is how the Church has always seen it. If followed, the
guidance provided by Christ to the Apostles and through them to us, will lead us far along the Path of Perfection, and this
indeed is the Way of Salvation.
There are those who claim to be Christians who still teach that in order to achieve Salvation it is
merely necessary for us to say that we believe in Christ, and that such belief alone will bring us salvation. This, however,
is the way of Sloth and unless they also live as He lived, those who follow it will not achieve the Goal. This is not to deny
that by His Sacrifice Christ earned for Mankind the Right to Salvation. He certainly did, but unlike some Ward believed that
in order to achieve Salvation it is also necessary to demonstrate the sincerity of that belief by endeavouring to emulate
Him – in other words, to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded
you”, as He said to His Apostles.
Right through the centuries that have intervened from then till now, millions of Christ’s followers
have done just this. They have endeavoured to follow His instructions and to copy His example, and many of them have thus
achieved Salvation and are now numbered among the Saints of God. That this is due to their following of this Way of Salvation,
which is itself dependent upon the Sacrifice of Christ is made plain in Revelation 7; 9 –17.
After this I beheld,
and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds,
and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white
robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said
to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his
temple: . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Today, Ward’s followers continue to obey Christ’s order to teach others to follow the commands
He gave His disciples. They are taught the Way of Salvation and the same ideals are proclaimed to the whole world, that all
who sincerely desire to achieve the Goal of all our Striving may have the opportunity of doing so.
The next section (sixth) of the Summary of Ward’s
Beliefs refers to this Way of Salvation in more detail.
We believe in the Way of Salvation,
whereby, following in the Footsteps of Our Lord, and making use of the Sacraments of His Church, we are enabled to obtain
forgiveness for our sins and assistance in paying our debts, so that ultimately we may finish our round of earthly lives and
take our place among the Saints of God.
This outline of the Way of Salvation merely expands somewhat on the original command of Christ, for
those “things which I have commanded you” are embodied in the Sacraments of the Church and references to confessing
our sins and receiving forgiveness as well as paying our debts and finishing our round of earthly lives are all found in the New Testament. This is not the time or place to discuss the Way of Salvation
or the Sacraments in great detail, but a brief outline is perhaps in order.
Throughout the last two thousand years the Orthodox and Catholic
Churches have always acknowledged a total of Seven Sacraments. The number
“Seven” is of course regarded as being the Perfect number, because it is the sum of Three and Four, and it is not impossible that in the early days there was a deliberate effort to construct the
rituals of the Church on a seven-fold basis. On the other hand it is difficult to see what other Christian rites could have
been added to these seven, so if there was a plan to make the total Seven, perhaps it originated with Christ Himself. After
all it was He who established this total, and He did it by adding four more rituals to the three that were already in existence
before His day. A study of the table below will help to clarify this.
THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS
Instituted at the Last Supper Also called the Breaking of Bread & the Lord’s Supper.
Most Important of all Sacraments.
Miraculous transubstantiation of Bread and Wine into Body and Blood of Christ in a re-enactment of His Great Sacrifice.
It is not merely a commemoration as some teach.
St Matt. 26;
Luke 22; 17-20
Acts 2; 42, 46
1 Cor. 10; 16
1 Cor 11; 20
1 Cor 1; 23-26
A Jewish initiation rite for proselytes. Also employed by them as a ritual penitential
rite, acknowledging one’s sins. It was important as an initiation rite among the Essenes and became the original Christian
initiation rite. Even if one had been baptised a Jew, one had to be re-baptised to become a Christian
St Matt 3; 6
StMatt 28 18-20
Acts 2; 41
Acts 8; 38
Acts 19; 3-5
Originally predicted by the prophet Joel,
St John the Baptist also said that Christ would baptise with the Holy Ghost. Christ also promised that this would
be done, and at Pentecost it was. The Apostles confirmed others after baptism.
Joel 2; 28-29
St Matt; 3; 11
Acts 1. 5
Acts 2. 42
Acts 8. 15-17
Acts 19; 5-6
PENANCE & ABSOLUTION
Although the Jewish religion encouraged sacrifice and penance, it offered no general forgiveness for sins. Having
first established His own right to forgive sins, Christ conferred that right upon His Apostles
Heb. 10; 4,11
St Matt 9; 2-6
St John 20; 23
Dates from very early times, but clearly regarded as sacred by the Jews. Christ reproved them for permitting divorce,
and commanded that “what God hath joined together, man should not put asunder.”
Gen. 2; 24
St Matt. 19 3-9
In Jewish times anointing with oil was a sign of spiritual benediction as well as good health and rejoicing. Its
use as a means of healing was well recognised in Christ’s day, and was encouraged in the early Church
Psalm 23; 5
St Mark 6; 13
St James 5; 14
In one sense Christ instituted the Sacrament of Orders when He sent forth the Apostles to preach and heal, thus
effectively granting them the powers of the Diaconate. In another sense it was only when they themselves ordained the first
Deacons that the Sacrament of Orders became a part of the Church. Thereafter they ordained priests and bishops to succeed
them, who in turn ordained others
St Matt. 10;
St John 20 ; 21
Acts 6; 3-6
Hebrews 6. 2
1 Tim. 4. 14
2 Tim 1; 6
1 Tim 5. 22
Before His time the Jews knew several
forms of Baptism, which were largely connected with ritual purification and with the admission of proselytes. They practiced
Anointing, both to heal the sick and as a form of spiritual benediction and dedication. And of course they recognised Matrimony
as a sacred duty, though their highly patriarchal social structure meant that in their eyes, it was more connected with a
need to raise up children to Abraham, than to its original spiritual function. This departure from its original ideals was
criticised by Christ (St Matthew 19; 8) especially in connection with the Mosaic
introduction of Divorce.
Christ clearly assented to all of these
older Sacraments as the Biblical references in the table make clear, but He also added at least two more Himself. He instituted
the Eucharist, (St Luke 22; 19) at the Last Supper and Penance (Confession) when He gave His Apostles authority to Forgive Sins. (St John 20. 23). It can be argued that the other two Sacraments,
Confirmation and Holy Orders came not from Him directly but through His Apostles. However, since both spring from the fulfilment
(Acts 2; 4.) of His promise to send the Holy Spirit upon the disciples (St John 16; 7) Ward always saw them as also being
instituted by Christ. After Pentecost the disciples in turn invoked the same power of the Holy Spirit upon their own followers,
and thus the Sacraments of Confirmation (Acts; 2; 38 & 8; 17) and Holy Orders (Acts 6; 6 & 13; 3) came to be.
The Holy Eucharist
The Holy Eucharist is the most important
of all Sacraments, so much so that it is sometimes called simply “The Sacrament” for in a sense it epitomises
within itself the whole purpose of Christianity. Christ came to earth to save the Human Race from its own folly and He died
for that purpose. The good karma earned by His Sacrifice enabled Him to offer His disciples the power that till then had been
His alone, of forgiving sins (St John
20; 22-23) and also the teachings that would enable them and their hearers to follow Him to Higher Planes.
In the Eucharist He miraculously enables
us to partake in that Sacrifice. For if as Ward and his followers believe, the Bread and Wine do change into the actual Body
and Blood of Christ, then each time the Eucharist is offered, that Sacrifice is repeated. This process is usually called transubstantiation
– changing the substance, and it means that each time a communicant receives the Sacrament he/she is receiving into
his/her own body the Real Presence of Christ, and these twin events produce a vast benefit or potential benefit to all concerned.
Firstly as connected with the repetition
of the Sacrifice; the mere fact that Christ is thus willing to re-offer Himself for mankind each day, continues to add to
the accumulated good karma upon which the Plan for Salvation is based. It is also a fact that those who believe on Him thus
honour Him and by their faith add their own modicum of good karma to that accumulation, for all acts of faith produce good
karma. Even the mere sacrifice of our time in participating in the Service helps forward the same great Cause, and though
without Christ’s Original Sacrifice none of this would have been possible, there is no doubt that each time the Eucharist
is celebrated in faith, it helps forward the Salvation of the World to some degree. Likewise it is true that each person who
partakes thereof in faith, in addition to the spiritual benefit he/she derives therefrom, also makes a contribution to the
ultimate Salvation of all Mankind.
Whilst the Holy Eucharist is rightly considered to be the most important of all Christian acts of Worship,
Baptism is equally vital to Salvation. Baptism is the effective Initiation Rite by which we are each admitted to the fellowship
of Christ and membership in the Church that He founded. The key element of Baptism
is the cleansing power of Water, and this is found in all forms of Baptism.
In Christian Baptism the ceremony also includes anointing with oil, reminiscent of the sacred
anointing of priests, prophets and kings in Old Testament
days. (See Exodus 28; 41 & also 1 Kings 19
15-16) Christ Himself
is described as being the Lord’s Anointed (This is the meaning of the word “Messiah”) and “the Anointed”
(The Greek word “Christ”). Therefore it is not surprising that Christians,
who unlike Jews were anointed at their Baptism, were called by that term, which means literally “one who has been anointed”.
(Acts 11; 26)
Baptism is designed to provide a symbolic
cleansing of the guilt of previous sins. These may be the sins of past incarnations, or the present one, and Baptism is equally
effective when applied to infants or adults. In some Churches it is withheld from infants on the premise that they can not
have yet sinned, which is of course wrong. Even if one denies the doctrine of reincarnation children are obviously capable
of choosing to do wrong from a very early age – certainly long before such groups offer them baptism.
In our Church and in most others, Baptism
is usually offered soon after birth, although we also baptise adults who join our Church if they have not previously been
baptised. Otherwise, baptism is not strictly necessary, for they are already Christians. We do, however Confirm all who join
us for it is through this ceremony that the candidate “confirms” his/her acceptance of our teachings. At times
candidates may be re-baptised “sub-conditionae” but usually only if it is likely that they will seek ordination at some alter time. This
is done to safe-guard the Apostolic Succession, lest imperfect baptism in another Church may later be held to invalidate their
Confirmation plays up to three separate
roles in Ward’s theology. Firstly and most importantly it provides the Baptism with the Holy Spirit that Christ promised
His followers. During the course of the ceremony the Holy Spirit is invoked and the candidate is anointed with the sacred
Chrism. The invocation of the Holy Spirit usually involves the use of a special canticle (typically
the “Veni Creator”) used only for this special purpose.
Because of the anointing with Chrism,
some of the Orthodox Churches use the term Chrismation to describe this Sacrament, but many of them confirm a child when very
young, often at the same time as baptism. Ward’s followers do not. We baptise young, but wait till the child has reached
the “age of reason” (usually seven to fourteen years of age) before
giving Confirmation. This is to allow for the Second role of this Sacrament – Confirming the faith – whereby the
candidate affirms his/her belief in the doctrines of the denomination (our Church)
and the bishop accepts that fact by “Confirming” them in the faith
Thirdly, Confirmation is often used
to admit members to partake of the Eucharist. Once one has been Confirmed one is usually permitted to communicate –
and this has led to abuses in those churches who confirm very young. For this reason we do not confirm babies. On the other hand adults who join us from other
Churches and who wish to communicate, will normally be allowed to do so even before they have been confirmed in our Church.
Penance & Absolution
Penance and Absolution, or Confession
as it is more generally known, is one of the least understood, most abused and at the same time most important of all the
Sacraments. There are those who contend that it is the most important of all – that like the Eucharist it was directly
instituted by Christ, and that the proper use of Confession without Baptism or Eucharist will more fully provide for the Salvation
of the Soul, than either of them without it. Ward, however, always saw the Eucharist as pre-eminent.
Obviously in Christ’s Plan for
the Church, each Sacrament takes its part, but it cannot be denied that Confession plays a role in the winning of individual
Salvation that is second to none. Basically Confession consists in Confessing
our faults and seeking “Penance, Counsel and Absolution (Forgiveness)”.
In other words it is a means of paying off or at least ameliorating the karma of our wrong-doings. It uses the “good
karma” of our penitence to tap into the mighty accumulation of good karma that Christ earned by His Sacrifice on Calvary, which is usually called Divine Grace. Provided we are sincere in our penitence, and prove it
by performing the Penance imposed on us and paying heed to the Counsel we are given, through this Sacrament we receive Forgiveness
for our faults. This in turn means that we have less karma to pay and so can speed more swiftly towards our goal. Confession
is indeed one of the key aspects of the Way of Salvation.
Holy Matrimony is of course the oldest
of the Sacraments. It is also the only Sacrament that predates the Bible, for in one form or another it exists in all religions.
For this reason it is often called the Lay Sacrament, because no priest is involved, and the parties to the marriage administer
the Sacrament to one another in the privacy of their own bedroom. The Priest merely blesses the marriage before it is consummated. The consummation itself
is the essential aspect of the Sacrament, which broadly speaking seeks to sublimate the oldest and strongest of all human
natural urges and in doing so brings the old psychic system of hieros gamos (sacred
marriage) within the grasp of every man and woman in the church.
An ideal marriage provides a stable
platform for any other task in life, and is especially valuable to those who would play a role in the Work of Christ. In our
Church we encourage the marriage of our clergy, and although we acknowledge that a bad marriage is worse than no marriage,
all our priests are encouraged to marry deaconesses. They are even encouraged to re-marry if they lose their partner for any
reason, for as the Bible says; (Genesis 2; 18) “It is not good for man to
be alone,” and much of the work of a priest is better performed with the help of his spouse.
Broadly speaking the word “Unction”
means anointing, which within the Church takes several forms. Annointing plays a part in several other Sacraments, but also
has its own distinctive role in bringing physical and spiritual healing to the sick and dying. It is in this capacity that
it is seen as a Sacrament in its own right.
Extreme Unction is the form of the Sacrament
whereby those who are dying are anointed. This is done, not so much in the hope of effecting a physical healing, though on
occasions this does take place, sometimes miraculously. More usually it merely provides a spiritual healing by which the individual
is prepared for the step which lies before it. This is its prime purpose, though it is often combined with Confession, and
if the dying person is capable of receiving it, the Holy Eucharist, which in this circumstance is known as the Viaticum (Literally “provision for the journey”). In such circumstances, these
three Sacraments are collectively called “The Last Rites”.
Anther form of Unction is given to those
who are sick, though not expected to die. Anointing of the sick was common in New Testament times (James 5; 14-16) and all through the Ages the Church has provided a healing ministry in which Unction plays a
major part. Ward’s followers use formal healing Services either alone or in conjunction with exorcisms and other types
of healing as required. Such services will not always produce a physical healing, but a spiritual benefit will always result,
though its degree and nature usually depends at least partly upon the faith of the recipient.
The last of the Sacraments, Holy Orders,
is one that is absolutely essential to the Church as we know it and involves the ordination and setting apart of chosen men
and women to the ministry of Christ. It is by means of Holy Orders that the authority of Christ that was transmitted through
the Apostles to their successors that those modern men and women who are deemed worthy to join that most honourable company,
are admitted thereto.
In essence the Sacrament of Holy Orders
consists of Three grades, Deacon, Priest and Bishop, but in Ward’s theology there are also six preparatory stages or
Minor Orders, entitled Cleric, Verger, Reader, Exorcist, Acolyte and Sub Deacon in ascending order of importance. Each of
these stages is designed to help prepare the candidate for a higher role, although many individuals do not progress beyond
the first of the Holy Orders (Deacon) and very few beyond the Priesthood.
The role of a Deacon is basically that
of serving the people and assisting the priest. In one sense the role of the Priest is even more important than that of Bishop, because the Priest acts on behalf of Christ by offering the Eucharist in His Name on
our behalf. It is this role of the Priest as the Representative of Christ, which prevents a woman from being raised to the
priesthood. In common with other Orthodox and Catholic Churches, who likewise understand the Psychic and spiritual differences between men
and women we follow the examples of Christ and His Apostles and only permit males to fulfil this role.
Both males and females undergo similar
training and follow the same first five stages. Females then become Assistant Deaconesses and Deaconesses, which are not simply
the female equivalents of Sub-deacon and Deacon. They are more orientated towards a healing and caring ministry, and in fact
it should be noted that Deaconesses actually receive certain privileges not granted to male Deacons, such as the right to
wear a crucifix in Church.
Overview of the Sacraments
Obviously this is only a brief
overview of the part played by the Sacraments in Ward’s theology but it is plain from this outline that their role is
fundamental to the life of the Church. They cover every aspect of life on earth, from birth to death, and from our relationships
with others to our relationship with Christ and with His Church. Together they provide the spiritual elements from which the
Way of Salvation is constructed.
Life after death and Reincarnation
We also believe that by making use of
them and following that Way of Salvation we will achieve the goal of all our striving. Those who do not follow that way will
have to continue their struggle in the life beyond the grave before returning to another incarnation on earth. The seventh
section of the Summary describes what awaits us beyond death.
We believe in life after death; that our loved ones await us
on the further shore, that they dwell initially on the Astral Plane in a condition determined largely by their standard of
life when on earth, that they then pass to the Spirit Plane in which their condition is determined wholly by their spiritual
state, and which ranges from Hell to Paradise; and that ultimately they will be reborn again on earth: and that this process
shall continue until they earn the right to end their round of earthly lives.
This is obviously a vast subject and
here we will merely expand somewhat on that which is summarised above. For though all religions have had their beliefs in
life after death, few have been able to throw such a profound light on what is to many a deep mystery than the theology of
John Ward. So important is this knowledge to his followers, that some of them have been heard to say that our knowledge of
these realms is so comprehensive and so well substantiated that there is little need for faith in our Church. Others may believe,
but we know! Whilst I would not go so far as to agree with this in all cases, it is true that many of our mystics have reached
such a stage.
Ward’s theology sees the Earth
as but the lowest of many Planes of Existence. It recognises Three distinct Planes of sinful mortals, the Physical, the Astral
and the Spiritual, through which mortals progress life after life until having learned all the lessons of the human state
they no longer need to return to the Physical world and are permitted to advance into the Realms of Perfected Men –
commonly called the Planes of the Venerable, the Blessed and the Saints. Beyond these yet again there are Nine ranks of increasing
mighty celestial beings, loosely called Angels, and Ward’s theology sees the Spark within each one of us gradually progressing
through all these Planes of Existence till it is found worthy to Unite with the Godhead once more. The table below may be
a help in envisaging this concept
The Planes of Existence - Men, Saints and
Our earth and all the rest of the Physical Universe
Abode of the Newly Dead. We live here when first we die, before passing
to the Form or Spirit Plane
Form Plane or
On this Plane the good are sorted from the sinners. Both Hell and Paradise are
here, though separated by a vast gulf and many intermediate realms
THE WALL OF FIRE
The realms beyond the Wall of Fire are colloquially called Heaven.
Imperfect human spirits pass from the Physical Plane to the Astral and then the Spirit Plane before reincarnating
on earth again. The Perfected pass higher.
Plane of the Venerable
Plane of the Venerable Saints of God. Newest of the Saints, merely learning their new role.
Plane of the Blessed
Plane of the Blessed (or Beatified)
Saints of God. Effectively apprentice Saints
Plane of the Saints
Plane of the Fully Sanctified Saints of God Helping mankind and preparing for Angelhood
The spirits of two saints must merge to form an Angel. Hence the term “soul-mates”
of Guardian Angels - Guardians both of men and the lower creation
of the Archangels - guides to the Guardian Angels
Plane of the Thrones
of the Thrones - Angels who watch over Churches
Plane of Dominions
are the Angels who watch over Nations and National groups
Plane of Principalities
who guide different human races and racial groups
Plane of the Powers
Angels in spiritual charge of whole worlds. The Masters of Fate
lesser Angels work mainly with worlds like that from which they came.
three highest ranks are not limited by Space and work right throughout the Universe.
Plane of the Virtues
diffuse the various attributes of God throughout the Universe
Plane of the Cherubim
show forth the Love of God to all Creation
Plane of the Seraphim
spread the knowledge of God throughout Creation
When we die.
Every human being old and young, knows
that one day, he/she will die, though the young often choose to ignore this fact. However as we grow older, the inevitable
approach of the day of our own individual deaths is borne home to us ever more insistently by the signs of aging in our own
bodies and the older we become the more insistently our thoughts are driven to consider this subject. Some still refuse to
do so, with the result that death, though long foreseen by others, seems to come upon them suddenly whilst they are yet unprepared
for it and this is one of the greatest tragedies of earth life.
Many times our ministers have been called
to counsel those, who having lived “normal”, worldly lives for many years are suddenly advised that death is only
a few weeks or months away. Then it is suddenly a case of having to try to cram a lifetime of learning about the Afterlife
into that brief time even as the physical body gradually weakens and its ability to learn is consequently impaired. How much
easier it would have been if when they were young such persons had started to learn about life after death, so that they could
pass over without fear, knowing that they were fully prepared to function in that state. Whilst such a study is truly the
work of many years, the following overview may provide some help for those who need such knowledge and have no longer the
luxury of so much time.
At the Moment of Death
On earth, the human being consists of
three parts, the Physical Body, the Astral Body and the Spirit Form, in which dwells the Divine Spark. When the Physical Body
stops working, we say that the person has died, but that is not strictly true. It is only the physical body that has died.
The Astral Body and the Spirit are still very much alive.
So for a time the Spirit continues to
function within the Astral Body. Although it has no physical body or physical senses, its Astral Body seems to be so similar
that some spirits do not immediately realise that they are no longer living on earth. They see with their Astral eyes and
can move their Astral limbs to do what they want, just as they could use their physical abilities on Earth. This is because
the Astral Being functions on what we call the Astral Plane of Existence, which is in many ways similar to the earth, though
it is also different, though there is not time for us to consider these differences here. The Astral Body is not solid like
the Physical, yet neither is it purely spiritual. Its relationship to the Physical is almost like a gas when compared to a
solid. Another way of comparing them is to see the Astral Body as being like a tenuous net or force-field on which the solid
elements of the physical body are fastened. When the physical body is destroyed this force-field or net remains intact, though
only for a while, because there comes a time when that too ceases to exist, and then the Spirit is finally set free and functions
in the Plane of Existence we usually call the Spirit Plane.
It is as if a letter or present has been wrapped in a couple of envelopes or layers of wrapping paper
and these have gradually been removed. So now the Spirit at last finds itself free of its various coverings although it continues
to function in the same Form that it had when on earth. For this reason the Spirit Plane is sometimes called the Form Plane,
but however it is named it is the Third Plane of Existence.
Those who function on the Spirit Plane
are able to do many things that they could not do on earth. For instance they are able to read thoughts, and to travel from
one place to another merely by thinking about it, but as they have no Physical or Astral bodies it is also a fact that they
can only see or travel by spiritual means. A person who has never bothered to develop spiritual sight on the Physical or Astral
Planes will thus find him/herself in darkness and in the Spirit Plane such people automatically draw together, like unto like,
just as the good also draw together, but when good people draw together they will automatically create Paradise between themselves,
whilst a gathering together of evil produces Hell.
There are many good places on the Earth
and on the Astral Plane, and there are some very fair imitations of Hell on both, but it is only on the Spirit Plane that
such states can and do reach their logical extremes. Thus what many denominations call Paradise and Hell, are the two extremes
of the Spirit Plane, but everyone remains a child of God and even in Hell all have the opportunity to make spiritual progress,
and on the Spirit Plane all eventually do so. The most perfect, earn the right to progress from Paradise to Heaven, whilst
the rest return to earth after a period of time that may be quite short, but more commonly is many times longer that the years
they spent on earth.
Such spirits will pass through
the cycle of life on the Physical, Astral and Spirit Planes and back to Earth, many times – a process commonly known
as Reincarnation or Metempsychosis. Eventually they learn all the lessons of the human state and no longer have any need to
return to physical existence.We mortals call such perfected human spirits, Saints.
Eternal Life and the Divine Spark within us.
The eighth section of the summary refers to the cycle of Reincarnation and also to the Divine Spark that exists
within each one of us and which provides the link that will ultimately draw us back to God. This is what it says:
We believe in the Divine Spark
within each one of us, Eternal and indestructible, whereby alone we are enabled to break free from the shackles of material
existence; that we gain experience on the Astral and Spirit planes after death on earth, only to return again, life after
life until we have learned all that earth life can teach us. Even if at times we turn away from God, He will not abandon us,
and ultimately we will be led to realise the folly of our sin; and taking the opportunities afforded to us, pay off our past
debts by sacrifice and service, and following the Way of Salvation earn the right to end our lives on earth.
This Divine Spark is none other than
a fragment of the Divinity Itself, and as such it partakes of Its essential Nature - Eternity. It descends into mortal existence
to gain experience and does so through many incarnations, but because we are actually His brethren, Christ is ever ready to
sacrifice Himself to aid us forward upon the Way. And no matter how many times
we turn away from Him, God will never abandon us, for we share His Divine Nature, and He could never abandon a part of Himself.
Time after time the Salvator has descended to earth to bring a new Revelation to His younger brethren,
most recently as Jesus of Nazareth. As such He has Sacrificed Himself on Calvary to bring us the Way of Salvation and though
there be many ways of achieving salvation, it is by following His injunctions and using the spiritual facilities He has provided
through the Church that He founded, that we are most surely enabled to draw steadily closer to the goal of all our striving. And though there be those who travel by different routes, Ward’s theology recommends
this Way; The WAY OF SALVATION brought to us by the Man Jesus of Nazareth, Who is also our God. He is also Christ the King,
Who will one day return to earth as He promised; not this time to suffer and to die, but to reign as King over all the earth.
The Orthodox Catholic Church works ever to prepare His Way. This is our task and this is our test,
and we shall address that aspect of Ward’s theology on the next web page (CLICK HERE).
These were Passover, Pentecost and
Tabernacles, according to Exodus 23; 14 - 17, which reads;
Three times thou shalt keep a feast
unto me in the year. Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread (Passover) . . . . . And the feast of harvest, (Pentecost) the firstfruits of thy labours, which
thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, (Tabernacles) which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. Three times in the year all thy males
shall appear before the Lord God.
The other parts: All power is given unto Me, etc; Baptizing them in the Name of the Father,
etc; and I am with you always, etc; are also vital to our Christian way of life.
James 5; 16 & I John 1; 9
St Matthew 18; 34-35 & James 5;
These in turn are the traditional
numbers of Heaven (Three) and Earth (Four)
and derive from the THREE Persons of the Trinity and the FOUR quarters of the earth
Ward’s theology sees all marriages
as embodying a life-long commitment but it also acknowledges the reality of Divorce in the modern world and will not refuse
to re-marry divorcees after appropriate counselling.
The same karmic
principal underscores the traditional practice of offering the Liturgy (also known
as the Mass, Eucharist or Communion) for some specific purpose, such as the spiritual well-fare of someone who has recently
died, the health of someone who has been sick, or the success of some worthwhile venture.
See also Hebrews 1; 9, quoting Psalm
Technically one can only be Baptised
once. One cannot be re-baptised. If the first baptism was valid, the second will be held to be invalid. When there is any
possibility that an earlier baptism was valid, the candidate will only baptised “sub-conditionae”. This is “under
the condition” that they have not already been baptised. The actual words used are “If thou art not already baptised,
then do I baptise thee. . . . . .”
See Acts 14; 22 & 15;41,
As for instance when a two-year-old
refuses to eat the Sacrament and spits it out. After transubstantiation the Sacrament is considered sacred, and in such circumstances
the priest then has to pick It up and consume It himself. I have known this happen.
Some of the more
puritanical Protestant groups do not regard marriage as a sacrament and see sex as being the sin of Adam, made barely permissible
by the marriage of the participants and only then, when it is performed solely for the purpose of procreation. Obviously Ward
did not accept this warped view of sex, which is not supported by either the Bible or Church tradition.
Obviously I am not saying that a Priest
is more important than a Bishop, because a man cannot become a Bishop without also being a Priest. What I am saying is that
the role of offering the Eucharist is the most important of all roles and none of the additional powers conferred upon a bishop
is as important.