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Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon tied the
Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the
need for action, not simply diction.
Consider the words from the Collect, wherein we ask
God … who declarest thy almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity;
Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way
of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of
thy heavenly treasure; …
Once again, this Collect is kind of a follow-on to
the last few weeks’ Collects.
First, we acknowledge God’s power which is manifested not in terror but
in mercy and pity on our failures.
This is important to note; with all the power in and of the universe,
God chooses to manifest His Power in showing infinite mercy and kindness to us,
not in causing us more tears. He is far kinder to us than we could ever
possibly deserve. We would expect Him to be otherwise, given our fallen
nature. Rather than be unforgiving
and unmerciful, He is there to comfort and help us. He does not act as a human would in His position, but rather
being a merciful and mindful God to us. He realizes our struggles and gives us
resources to us to help with those struggles. Thus, the Collect goes on to ask
His Help in following His Commandments that we might gain the good that comes
from that following. And we would
hope that we recognize the good that comes from that following and choose to
repeat doing the following as opposed to going astray such as our tendency is.
As imperfect creatures of free will, the norm is to
choose what we want, not what we need, then we come to calamity. We are each grievous sinners, some
worse than others, none better.
Yet, we come before God all equal.
In equally big trouble, some more, none less. We are all equal by the
fact that we are hopeless sinners without the saving grace and faith of
Christ. It is only through faith
we are saved. And not our faith,
but the faith of Christ that dwells within us.
This is the point Saint Paul is making when he says
that first he gave unto us
that understanding he got directly from God as to the role of Jesus
He recounts some of the
factual information about Jesus’ time here on earth after the crucifixion, the
descent into hell and the resurrection. He is confirming that the story of the
Gospel as told to him. He notes the various witnesses, still alive or recently
He makes the point
that we must spread the gospel so that others might believe.
He tells us we are saved by faith alone.
Partly, but not chiefly and not first. Then whose faith is it that we
are saved by?
We are saved by the perfect faith of Christ, our only
mediator and advocate before the Father.
It is not by our faith, but the faith of Him who dwells within us, that
of Chirst. Without Christ, we could not have any faith to begin with. The perfect
faith of Christ allowed a single sacrifice to be made at one time, to right the
account the sins of all mankind for all time. This is the faith that saves us and our faith in Him allows
Him to operate in us. If we do not have faith in Him, He cannot enter into us
with His faith. That is why those who do not have the Holy Ghost in them do not
believe in Him. One of Paul’s
points in today’s Epistle was that if he, the previous Chief Persecutor of the
church could be saved by Jesus’ that option was available to each of us. Anybody who is able and willing to can
be saved by Jesus. They just need to repent and turn back to Him. All we need
to do is repent and follow. Thus,
we need to Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way towards Christ and God’s grace.
The other point is that Jesus is real, He is Who He
says He IS. He is not a fictional
character, he is not a great teacher.
He is THE SON OF GOD and He came to save us: body, heart, mind and
soul. There is no other way to
view Him that makes as perfect sense as this. Just as we are real sinners, He
is a real Savior. You cannot have the Holy Spirit within you and say that He is
not the Son of God. Likewise, you cannot say He is the Son of God without the
Holy Ghost in you.
If that is not enough to turn your heart, consider
the parable of the publican and the Pharisee related by Saint Luke. The man who was proud of his
performance was not the example Jesus chose for the one justified, rather the
one who acknowledged his failures and asked God for forgiveness and help. Think
of these examples and who would we rather be like, the publican, or the
Pharisee? Remember, the Pharisee’s
job consisted of finding clever ways around the 613 Mosaic Laws. The publican was looking for help in
actually following two:
Hear what our Lord
Jesus Christ saith.
HOU shalt love the
Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law
and the Prophets. BCP Page 69
And, just as importantly, he was not looking for ways
around those two laws, he was looking for help to follow God and forgiveness
when he fell short.
Let us ask God for the help we need to follow His
Will. For we must have His Help to
act as we must here on earth!
For by their actions ye shall know them.
Heaven is at the end of an
uphill trail. The easy downhill
trail does not lead to the summit.
The time is now, not tomorrow. The time has come, indeed. How will you ACT?
It is by our actions we are known.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God
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