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Sunday, April 3, 2016
First Sunday after Easter
Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.
We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter and the following four Sundays, until we get to Rogation Sunday. This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ.
Consider these words from the Collect:
… thine only Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification; Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve thee in pureness of living and truth …
God sent Jesus, His ONLY Son, to be The Christ, The Messiah, The Savior, The Lamb to be sacrificed for our sin. He gave His earthly Life, He went down into Hell, that we might be justified before God at our accounting. Not that we might be perfect, but that we might be accounted perfect at our judgment day. Yet we are not made perfect. Just because we are going to be accounted as perfect does not mean we are. Thus we must ask God’s help to put away the infection, or leaven, of evil in our hearts so we can serve the Living God here. We must be unleavened bread or unsinful. This is truly a task which requires His Help. Without His Help, we cannot remove the hate and evil from our hearts. We need His Help so we can move forward.
In his general Epistle, Saint John makes it clear the entity we refer to as God is a Triune Being, that is Three in One; Father, Son and Holy Ghost. What he does not make clear is the relationship between the Three. But, that is not surprising, no place else is it really clear either. God is comprised of three separate entities who are of one substance and form a single entity, each has its function. Jesus Christ is our key to life and the Holy Ghost is our key to Jesus Christ. Christ, who was there at the beginning, will be there at our end; the Holy Ghost who breathed life into this world is our key to finding Christ in our hearts. God has made it so.
The Holy Ghost is not often talked about in the church, yet He is the key to understanding. God sent us the Holy Ghost that we might have:
When John relates the story of Jesus coming in to the Upper Room, note three things:
1. He came into a closed room in bodily form;
2. Then gave them His Peace;
3. He breathed the Holy Ghost upon them.
An interesting point is made when John talks about the closed room. When we leave the Shadowlands, we will gain an optimized body with shape and form, but as Jesus demonstrated things are different in the Real World. The closed room is a metaphor of sorts for Earth. Earth is a closed room, in that there is no way out, except through death. When we die, as followers of Christ, we will appear in heaven, out of this closed room. And when we appear in heaven, things will be different than here on Earth and for the better. We will no longer be halt, blind and maimed, we will live as God has meant for us.
Jesus gave them His Peace. The Peace He talks about is quite different from the peace that the world talks about. Jesus brings us, like those disciples, the peace of mind and soul that comes with giving all our worry, sadness and terror to Him. He leaves in His Wake not confusion but order and wellbeing. With Him in our hearts we cannot fail at anything that needs be done. His Peace. This is not a concept that is thought about lightly. It is certainly not the hand shaking service interrupting greeting of some churches. They say ‘peace’ when they mean ‘hi.’ This Peace is what we are looking for and have been looking for since we came into this world, for it is our passport out. It is the true peace we get when we know He is carrying our worries on His back and we can let go of our concerns and know that He is looking out for us and will give us the guidance we need to deal with our concerns. We just need to listen to Him and then act upon it.
That brings us to the Holy Ghost. He is the Breath of Life, not just physical, whereas to die is to “give up the Ghost.” He is our spiritual life, for without Him in our souls, hearts and minds we cannot even see the narrow road to the summit, let alone navigate it. Without Him we see only that broad even way that gently curves downward and gets smoother and smoother as it nears the Pit. The Holy Ghost is the key to knowing our Lord!
Paul continually tells us we must be reborn as a new person in God. We must put on the New Man and put the Old Man behind us. We must endeavor to leave our old habits behind as we strive to make new practices into habits. The only way to do this is through His Help and repetition of those new practices. We cannot follow the direction of Jesus towards God without the help of the Holy Ghost; the Trinity in actual practice. If you believe in Jesus, you must believe in God and follow Him; you can do neither without the help of the Holy Ghost. Without the Holy Ghost, we are like men who desperately need glasses to see. Without the Holy Ghost as our correcting lens, we cannot see what He wants us to see in order to act. With the Holy Ghost, we can see what needs to be done and also act upon it.
The Holy Ghost is key to all of our efforts here on Earth. We cannot do anything to advance our Lord’s cause here on Earth without His presence within our hearts. So we must accept the help that the Holy Ghost will give us. To truly accept His Help, we must first listen to Him and then act upon what He says for us to do.
When Jesus came to the disciples on Sunday evening, He breathed the Holy Ghost into their hearts. He gave the disciples the power to pass His Forgiveness on to their followers. As ministers of God, we follow the disciples, but we have not the power to forgive, except as we find in the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We do have the ability to tell you that if you repent, that is “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life,” then God will forgive you. Through our Lord, if you repent, He has forgiven you.
The key word here is repent! We must “go and sin no more!” as Christ told the lady who was an adulteress. He did not tell her it was okay to do what she wanted to do, the way she wanted to do it and perhaps suggest a more flattering shade of lipstick. No, He told her that her sins were forgiven, but she was to “go and sin no more!” We repent not only in word, but we must repent in our deeds also, so that we can truly show the world that we have faith. If we do not repent, then we do not have faith in Him. We must have faith in Him, so therefore, we must truly and earnestly repent of our sins and do our utmost best to “go and sin no more.” That is how we can truly show that we have faith. That is all that He asks, is us to actually DO our best, not just say that we are doing our best.
So what to take from all this?
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3.16
If you get that, you have the Holy Ghost in your heart. If you open your heart, He will breathe the breath that sends The Comforter to you. Then you shall have the knowledge to act the way He wants you to act. You will have surefire knowledge of the course that He wants you to take.
When the time comes, how will you ACT?
It is by our actions we are known.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God