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Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together because as is always
the case there is a unifying message in the Scripture for this Sunday. In this case, there is a different take on the same Scripture used earlier in the year.
The Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity
The Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
OD, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life; Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even as he is pure; that, when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
The Collect reminds us Jesus was sent to destroy the works of the devil in us so we might be accounted as perfect at the final tally point allowing us, with the Holy Ghost’s help, make ourselves act more like Him, less like we want.
The Gospel reminds us we have to choose a side and so does the Gospel, in that if we choose the way of sin, we are on the Devil’s side. We are either on God’s side or on Satan’s side. There are only two sides in this matter and there is no in between ground that we can stay in. One man cannot serve to masters, as Christ aptly pointed out. He will hold to one and despise the other. He cannot be stuck in between the two positions; man is ultimately forced to choose a side on which he wishes to stay on. For us the choice is pretty clear. It is to follow God and His Word to the best of our abilities and to spread it through ought the whole wide world. For the other way is clearly a unpleasant alternative, permanent separation from God. Whereas following God will bring us closer to our Creator for all eternity, which is the most pleasant existence after death one can imagine. In fact, due to our feeble minds and bodies, we cannot comprehend how wonderful it will be to spend eternity with God and our fellow believers.
The Gospel and the Epistle both tell us those who follow God to the best of their abilities, which manifests itself in good works, are on God’s side, while those who follow themselves and fall into temptation are on Satan’s side. Clearly it is an easy choice to see who we should follow. It is harder in practice to remain on the course; but with God and the Holy Spirit guiding us, we should be able to remain on a constant path towards eternal life.
We cannot be on the side of the Devil, if we want eternal life. So, what path should we take if we wish to inherit eternal life? We read the Word of God, and take it as a whole to our life, not just one really nice verse we like, but we must take it as a whole. It is all about the big picture and not just the little itty bitty part of Scripture that we pick up on. Otherwise we become like many so called “theologians”, debating the meaning of one verse and how it applies to their “theology.” When the only theology we should be concerned about is reading Scripture and following Christ and his principles and applying it to our lives. Too many people subscribe to various theological theories such as Calvinism, Zwigiliism, etc., and lose sight of the fact those men ultimately would choose to be known as “Christians” or followers of Christ and not Calvinists, Cramnarians, etc. If they were known as those then, then they would be followers of the Devil and not of God. So, let us be careful when we read Scripture we are taking in as a whole and not just a part.
Saint John points out in his Epistle that Christ was brought down here to take away our stain of sin which prevents us from entering into heaven. He points out to actually turn over a new leaf, we need to do as Christ counsels and do our best to go forth and sin no more. If we say we are a Christian, that means we hold fast to Christ’s principles. But if we say we are a Christian and go out and rob a bank or be thoughtlessly cruel to our neighbor, then John points out we cannot really be a Christian, for we are not holding to Christ’s principles. We would be in fact rejecting Him by our actions. As I often say in my sermons, actions speak louder than words. So, we need to do our best to align our actions with what Christ teaches in Scripture.
The unifying theme of the Gospel, Collect and Epistle is there are two sides in this spiritual conflict and the right light side will defeat the dark evil side in the end. Which side do you want to be on, eternal life or that of eternal death? The side of good is eternal life and the side of evil and Satan of eternal death. There may not be as many short term gain on Good, but if we perform a cost-benefit analysis, the CBA suggests the side of God, of goodness, of light is the best in the long term, which is what the Bible is all about, planning for the long term.
If we focus on the short term, doing what is easy, rather than righteous, we shall find ourselves shorted, in a loss, rather than a profit. Our liabilities will be more than our assets. But, if we choose the side of righteousness, then, we shall be able to have more assets then liabilities and be profitable, not in a financial sense, but rather in the spiritual sense.
So, to sum up the lessons we have learned; we are pitifully weak creatures, with free will. There may be a form of predestination; but the key is, we are free to choose God or Satan. It lies upon us to choose the fork in the road. One will lead to goodness, like cherry pie, and the other will lead to coal. Which do we want to choose?
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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