Sunday, May 5, 2019
Second Sunday after Easter
Sermon - Rev Hap Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon ties together the propers, that is to say the prayer and Scriptural readings for this week.
We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter and the following four Sundays, through 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:
… who hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life; Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life …
To understand the importance of Jesus’ sacrifice, it is critical to understand He is the only begotten Son(John 3:16) of God. He is also referred to in places as The Word, the means by which God is given to the world. But, more than that, 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3) Though the corrupted versions of the Bible (NIV, NKJV, RSV, etc) have attempted to erase His Divine Status and the role He plays in our salvation, that does not change the reality of Who He is. He is in simplest terms, the great I AM. He was the one who brought light into this World. He has been there since before the beginning of time, before the beginning of what we know as our Universe. He created this world, it is by rights His; not the rightful belonging of the Prince of this World. It was not Satan’s to give away, which Jesus knew when Satan failed miserably to tempt Jesus with his false promises in the wilderness. He whom is begotten of the Father is who was sent to give His earthly life that we might be accounted as perfect at our own final accounting. We ourselves, so oft serve only as bad examples, need the One who is the ultimate perfect example. Jesus has provided that perfect live for us to do our best to follow in our day to day lives. He came to provide a new and perfect new covenant that is far superior to the old covenant. The way He acted and conducted Himself on this Earth was left as an example for all of us Christians to follow. He is the ultimate role model for us, who we should strive to be more and more like every day. The Collect makes this point very clear, we need the Holy Ghost in our hearts to more closely follow that perfect example in our daily actions.
This brings us to Peter’s point in the Epistle, Christ serves as a perfect example for the conduct of our lives. There again the Epistle and the Collect tie together amazingly well. Jesus conducted His ministry as an example for us to follow in our times of trial and tribulation, that we might see His light in our darkest moments. If we are wrong and suffer for it, there is little honor; for we were wrong. But, if we do right, that is follow God’s Will, and suffer for it, there is in fact glory, laud and honor there. Jesus went to His death on the Cross that we might be accounted as perfect at our final accounting rather than being held accountable for our failures\. He who is, was and always will be perfect suffered great pain that we might live life eternal. If He did that for us, should we not follow that example and follow His Direction, counting the cost only after the work is done? He himself had to go through suffering that the miracle of His Resurrection would occur; if we have to suffer, we can be at least rest assured that He suffered too and He underwent far more pain and misery than we ever will in our lifetime.
We are, after all, much like sheep, following the lead of those around us, somewhat like lemmings, it seems. We have great need of a shepherd to lead us back from the edge of The Pit and to life, back to those verdant pastures and still waters. This Shepherd never will fail to lead us back to the pastures, we just have to pick up the guidance from the Holy Ghost and follow the path that He has set for us.
As Peter referred to Jesus as a shepherd, so does John. There is a reason for this constant reference to Jesus as the Good Shepherd; He is. He leads us to green pastures and to beside the still waters. He restores and comforts our souls and drives the enemy from out of our souls and minds, if we let Him. This is a universal theme throughout the various Epistles of Paul, Peter and James. In order for us to have spiritual growth, we need to let Him into our hearts. He will lead us towards the path to Heaven, we just have to make the conscious decision to follow His Directions and etch them into our hearts.
In order to follow His Directions, we have to let go of our pride, vanity and arrogance and accept His Guidance and teachings of humbleness and humility into our hearts. We have to realize we cannot do this on our own; we cannot save ourselves and we need God’s influence in our lives. The only way to let Him in is to accept His Teachings and act upon them. Continually reading Scripture, not only reading, but learning and digesting is the best way to grow as a Christian. To digest means to absorb. The best way to absorb these teachings is to read th Scripture, then put the concepts into practice every day.
Acting is the key word here, not just talking about it, but acting. It isn’t good enough just to read Scripture and go on our merry way and act like we did before we read them. We have to apply the key principles of Scripture in our lives and shine the light of Christ to those around us.
The Gospel notes the difference of ownership. Our true owner will, and I might add, has, given His Life so we might be protected from the ravening wolves of this world, the Prince of this World. We are cautioned to 8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:(1 Peter 5:8) But, sobriety only gets you so far; sheep do poorly against wolves and lions. We need one who is experienced in protecting our souls against the spiritual wolves and lions of this world. Jesus is that experienced protector we need. Make no mistake, we need the help of that Good Shepherd. That Good Shepherd calls to each of us, we need the Holy Ghost in our hearts to hear the call. Regardless of what you have been told by those of this world, there is only One God, One Lord, One Savior. Thus, there is only One Flock; there are many ways to follow Scripture, but they must all have the same general plan. That is the reason for the creeds, the reason we tell all to compare what is preached against what is in Scripture. We need to daily work towards doing a better job of following God’s Will.
We need help, He provides it, we need to accept it.
The key is action, in this case our action. We need to actually accept the offered help; like the life ring thrown to a drowning person, we must grab God’s proffered help, else we profit nothing.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God
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