Sunday, March 31, 2019
Fourth Sunday in Lent
Sermon – Reverend Hap Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion
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 often to the case we acknowledge to God we have fallen way short of our goals He set for us. We are also acknowledging we deserve to be punished for our failures; by His Grace we are relieved of that punishment. Jesus accomplished that relieving by laying down His Life that we might be free of eternal damnation.
In order for us to enter heaven, we have to be accounted as perfect. Most of us know we are so far away from perfect, it would not seem to be possible.
How then can we get into heaven, if not by our own means?
Death is oft referred to as the “Final Accounting.” As as businessman, I can tell you things are sometimes be accounted as what they are not, legally, too!
At that final judgment day, if we stay the course and follow God’s guidance, we can be accounted as perfect through the Grace of God’s 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 adopted into the freewoman’s family 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 son of the bondwoman represents our state before Christ and those who refuse 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, to follow the path of righteousness towards Him.
The 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 they were to follow. They really did not attempt to follow them, rather not to break them., A very complex and even more difficult life to live, 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. The big thing to remember about the 613 laws is that they could not accomplish what Christ accomplished in His Sacrifice and establishing the New Covenant. The Holy Ghost helps us along the journey to this goal, to bring us to that eternal life.
The New Covenant is so 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 two 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 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.
That is way harder. We are imperfect creatures with free will; 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 enslaved to sin and Satan; or to be free under God and Jesus. These are the two sides of which Paul speaks. We can be either enslaved to sin or we can be truly free and under God. The two choices boil down to either eternal slavery or eternal freedom. I know which side I want to be on, do you?
We always have a choice, it is upon us to choose and decide. Nobody else can make that critical choice. This brings to mind a quote from Lord of the Rings, All we have to do is decide what to do in the time that we are given. We must pick a side; in this spiritual war here is no middle ground.
We cannot stand with one foot on the side of slavery and one on the free. We cannot 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 live those two laws or rules; To love the Lord with all our hearts and to love our neighbor. Those are much harder to comply with, however, if we seek God’s guidance out and follow it, then all will be well with our souls.
Now, think about the Gospel. When we need help, how about instead of worrying all the time, we substitute it with action? Trust God will give us what we need. And, then act based on what we can and should do, not what we want to do. Actions gets results. These results may or not be obvious right away, but they will be soon enough. A hard principle to follow; but in the end, it is the easiest way and worth the struggle to trust God instead of worrying and or doing what we want to do.
Action will always benefit our spiritual state compared to inaction. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, 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 actedto 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