Verse of the Day

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fourth Sunday in Lent

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.

Consider these words from the Collect:

… we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved …

In the Collect, as is oft the case, we acknowledge to God our sad state, our evil nature, and then ask God to grant us His Grace to be relieved of being accounted as evil, rather accounted as perfect, even though we are so far from perfect.  This is a constant refrain, so many of the collects have this same theme; we are imperfect, perfect only in our imperfection; yet God is with us and is willing to help us, but only if we let Him.  This is because this a truth that remains constant. We are failed beings who need the help of One who is not failed, that need His Grace to be relieved of our many offenses and a renewed sprit. He is the One we must turn to for Help. To let Him help us requires us to let Him into our hearts.
To gain eternal life, to leave this Shadowland world for the real world, the world of Eternal Life, God’s World, that is to say Heaven, requires us to be perfect.  For only those who are perfect at the final accounting can gain entrance into heaven.  Actually, we don’t need to be perfect to get into heaven which is very handy as we will never in fact be perfect, no matter how hard WE try, inasmuch as by our very nature we are imperfect. 

How is this possible?

Death is oft referred to as the “Final Accounting”, and as one who has studied accounting, I can tell you that things can sometimes be accounted as what they are not, legally, too! 

At that final judgment day, imperfect creatures that we are, we can be accounted as perfect through God’s Grace of His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, Paul is right on point when he talks about the two sons of Abraham, one of the bond, one of the free.   Being accounted as perfect requires us to become adopted into the freewoman’s family or God’s. It requires us to follow Him and His guidance. This gift of eternal life is not free. It was paid for by Jesus’ death on the Cross and it requires us to actively following and working for Him here on earth.

The one of the bondwoman’s represents the state of God’s people before Christ and also those who choose not to follow Him. They are stuck in bondage to their own sins and to Satan and will never truly be free. They are in essence slaves of their own will. We have free will, let us exercise it in the way God intended, that is to follow the path of righteousness to Him.

These two are representative of the two covenants with God, the bond under The Law and the free under The New Covenant. 

The people of old are The People of The Law.  Six Hundred Thirteen Laws each of which by which they must abide.  A very complex and even more difficult life to live, with trying to comply and uphold those laws and failing. We still fail miserably at times, but we only have two laws, which we will hear about in a second. They are still hard to uphold, but if we manage to, easier to remember. Perhaps more properly said in practice 613 laws that they must live around; not so much as comply with, but avoid breaking.  Yet, they cannot comply with all the laws nor even work around them.  They are doomed to failure absent help from God.  The 613 laws could not accomplish what Christ has accomplished through His death on the Cross, His Resurrection and His Establishing of the New Covenant, which is eternal life for us in heaven with Him. The Holy Ghost helps us along the journey to this goal, to bring us to that eternal life.

The New Covenant is much less complex than the Old Covenant.  It is much easier to remember the ways of the New Covenant than the Old Covenant. However, the Old Covenant had to come first to get people’s hearts ready to follow the New Covenant.  For the New Covenant could not be introduced, or in other words, Jesus could not come to Earth until the people were ready for His Teachings. The Old Covenant was a stepping stone to the New Covenant.

Remember this from Holy Communion:

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.

Under the New Covenant, we have only two laws with which we must comply.  But, there is a catch.  We are not to just avoid breaking those laws, we must actually live them in our hearts, souls, minds AND bodies.  We must actualize them. It is the common theme of Action not just Diction, that appears in the sermons past here. The only way in which we can follow these two laws is we have to put them into practice in our day to day lives, which requires Action and not just Diction. We have to actually perform those actions in order to back up our faith. Faith without actions to back it up is a hollow faith, a non-existent faith.

Hey!  That is way harder.  We are imperfect creatures with free will.  That is a combination doomed to failure.

True, but we have the ultimate Get out of Jail Free card – Jesus Christ the righteous and He is the propitiation for our sins!  Remember that?  He accounts us as perfect at our final accounting!

There are two choices, two covenants, we can choose either to be people of slavery, enslaved to sin and Satan; or to be free people, under God and Jesus. These are the two sides that Paul speaks of. We can be either enslaved to sin or we can be truly free and under God.  One side leads to eternal freedom and happiness and the other leads to eternal suffering and death. I know which side I want to be on, but the question is do you? You, and you alone can make this choice, nobody else here can make it for you. This is one of the actions you have to act on, and not just say it.

We always have a choice, it is upon us to choose and decide. To paraphrase a quote from Gandalf, All we have to do is decide what to do in the time that we are given. But we must pick a side.  As I quoted last week, “He that is not with me is against me.”  Middle ground exists, but it is quicksand.  Any feeling of safety there is illusory.  We must take sides.  And, we cannot keep with those who oppose the side we choose.

We cannot have one foot standing on the slavery side and one foot on the free side. We cannot just be fence sitters, we must have our feet planted on one side.  From rational viewpoint, there is only one side to pick, and that is the side of freedom, of the New Testament offered to us by Christ himself. As people of The New Covenant, the original and real New Deal, we have only to comply with those two laws or rules; To love the Lord with all our hearts and to love our neighbor.  While it is true that those two are much harder to fully comply with than avoiding the 613 laws of The Law, we have the key – Jesus Christ.  He came to earth not only to lead us to heaven, from the front; but to be a propitiation for our sins, to make us account as perfect to God to allow us to come into His Land.

Now, think about the Gospel.  When we need help, how about instead of worry, we substitute trust and action?  Trust that God will give us what we need.  And, then act based on what we can and should do, not what we want to do.  Acting on what we should do gets results.   These results may or not be obvious right away, but they will be soon enough. And this may be a hard principle for us to follow, but in the end, it is worth the struggle to trust God instead of worrying and or doing what we want to do. Whereas if you never do anything, you’ll never see any results of your actions, for you are doing exactly nothing. If one is disillusioned enough by the fact he does not need to do anything, I suppose it probably doesn’t matter to that person. But to those of us who feel the acute need to do something, if we do nothing, we are going to feel that lack of action. Therefore, we are compelled to act upon our faith. Perhaps not what we want right at the time, but certainly what we need then and in the eternal future.  In the middle of nowhere, two thousand years from the nearest McDonalds, the disciples looked to Jesus to fill the needs of their congregation.  Jesus took what they had and gave them what they needed; “for he himself knew what he would do.”  He acted to help them.  Do ye likewise:


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

No comments: