Verse of the Day

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called Passion Sunday

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:

… thy people; … by thy great goodness … may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul …

In the Collect, we ask God to help us to look to Him for leadership and direction that we might be saved, both our physical bodies and souls.  For, if we do not look to God for our guidance and direction we are surely lost like a man in the wilderness without a compass.  When we ask we might be governed and thus preserved by His great goodness, we are in effect asking for His Guidance for us to be guided.   This concept is constant throughout all the collects. It is constant because it is the truth. We are in need of His Goodness and His Guidance to be able to follow the narrow uphill path towards heaven.  Guided means means we need to ask, then listen to what He Tells us, then actually follow those instructions.  Recall to mind this quote from GK Chesterton:

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

It does absolutely no good for us to ask God for guidance, then when He gives it to us for us to ignore or pretend we did not hear.  It is not just the listening part but then after hearing the guidance to act upon that. Only then can we truly be guided by Him. After all, there are none so deaf as those who will not hear, a concept discussed more fully in Matthew 13.13.  Thus, we need to ask for His Help, His Guidance, then actually do our very best to follow Him.

If we look to Him for guidance, we then look to Him for safety.  Safety meaning only the safety of our soul, our eternal life. Protection from what we deserve by our own nature, eternal damnation. That is a more important safety than here on the temporary physical plane. This existence is only temporary and will be over in a blink of an eye. Eternity is far longer than that. So, the safety of us on this plane of existence is not nearly as important as in eternity.

Things may get tense here, for as Aslan is not a tame lion, God is not a tame god.  He is the one true and triune God.  Not tame, but the savior of mankind.  Think about this; pretty clearly the Mosaic Law with its 613 rules did not really work to save mankind.  The constant sacrifice of animals could not make us accounted for as perfect in God’s eye.  After all, an animal would never work to cleanse our sins, account us as perfect and let us enter into heaven, as Christ’s sacrifice in a terrible death on the Cross did for us. An animal is a poor substitute for a divine being who is our conduit from heaven to earth, and vice versa. Yet this was only an intermediate step towards Christ as we will hear about more in a minute. The Law, to paraphrase the words of Saint Paul, was our teacher to make us ready for the coming of Christ. Saint Paul in the Epistle pretty much explains without having had The Law as our base, we would not have been ready for Christ. It was a needed step to prepare the world for Jesus. We were always destined to fail in following The Law.  We cannot make the grade on our own.  We need the One Sacrifice, One Time, for all mankind, for all time.

Our only means of being accounted as perfect when we come before God is to rely on the sacrifice and intermediary priesthood of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ to account us as perfect before God on that final day.  Your AOC ministers, while officially titled as priests are not intermediary priests; there is one high priest, Jesus Christ the Righteous who is also the propitiation for our sins!  He is our Savior, our Leader, our Teacher, our Master, our Example!

Christ came to succeed the Old Covenant which was marked by sacrifices of innocent animals, that really did not do the job, with the New Covenant which is marked by His death on the cross for our sins, and this has done the job intended. Before the world began God knew of both the New and the Old Covenants. He also replaces the many intermediary priests of the Old with Himself, the single, High Intermediary Priest. The Old Covenant had to be put in place before the New Covenant, that is to say Jesus, could come to Earth. The people had to be prepared for Him.

At the same time, as imperfect creatures with free will, even if we do our very best to follow His Word, we will still not ever be perfect.  On the other hand, we will be better than we will if we do not.  Thus, without the sacrifice of His Son, we will not make the cut.  It is a better solution than sacrificing the animals like the Hebrews. Without Him, we will end up in the pit.  We need that one sacrifice, one time, for all mankind, for all time. If we did not need that sacrifice, then we wouldn’t be seeing all the troubles in the world today.  Today’s world makes clear the need for the sacrifice He made for us; one time for all time. Unlike the Old Testament sacrifices, multiple sacrifices a year, this sacrifice was made one time, one year, for all time. It is a far superior arrangement, but it came at a heavier cost than the Old Covenant, the cost of His death. It is a cost we should always remember and be thankful He was willing to die for our sins.

We should be willing to remember this and act upon it by fulfilling the Great Commission and spreading the Gospel, the story of Jesus’ death and sacrifice for us for all time, and for all mankind, to all nations. In this, He has pretty much said if we are His followers, we will do as He asks, in acting for Him. Action, not just that of diction is what He is looking for. So, let us act for Him!

In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us if we believe in Him and keep His Word (keeping His Word meaning acting upon it), then we shall make our seamless journey from the Shadowlands to His Home. He makes the same point He makes time after time, if we are truly of His Flock, we will act for Him. Act, not just talking nice words, but acting upon those words as well. Action shows where a person’s heart truly is. If they truly are of His Flock, then their actions shall show their belief. Few of the Pharisees could conceive, or peradventure would not conceive, God would send His Son to this world for us. They did not even believe He had a son, they were looking for the Messiah figure they thought couldn’t be Him. The Messiah was in fact Jesus, the Christ of God.  They expected an earthly savior, one who would drive the Romans out and put the Jews in charge of that corner of the world. They did not expect a divine savior and could not conceive this savior would come from God, as His Own Son, to offer himself up as a sacrifice in our stead.

Their problem was that Jesus came to save our souls and give us eternal life, eternal life starting right then.  Not just for the Jews and Israel, but the whole wide world, Jew, Gentile, Greek and all others.  Jesus brought salvation and life to the entire world.  That was not what the Pharisees were looking so hard for with their magnifying glasses as they examined Torah and The Law.  They were looking for only what would be a temporary power, power on this physical plane. Like mentioned earlier, this pales in comparison to safety in eternity.  Pharisees were not big picture people, and as Calvin told Hobbes, “We big picture people rarely become historians.” It would seem that also applied to the Pharisees as they were not “big picture people”, they misinterpreted the prophecies of the Messiah. Regardless, even though some people chose to misunderstand the prophecies, He came and He made that one sacrifice, at one time, for all mankind, for all time. 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[1].

Who is Jesus?  Our Savior?  Indeed.  But, more He has been since before the beginning of the world, for He is One with I Am.

Through His Actions, we are saved.

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

[1] If the text of this sentence seems familiar, it is John 3.16, probably the most widely quoted text of the Bible.

No comments: