Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.
Consider the words of the Collect, “… Keep … thy Church with thy perpetual mercy; and … keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation …”
When the Collect talks about the church, it is not talking about buildings; it is talking about us. The church is not a building, it is the army of believers following God. That is the church. Each of us; all of us. We need God’s Mercy and Grace to keep us from desiring those things that are bad for us and help us to see we really want those things that are good for us.
Speaking of things, just like the Jewish based Christians of Paul’s time, it often seems like everyone has secret rituals, handshakes or hoops they want you to jump through to be really IN. Paul reminds us that all fall short, and special fancy diets, days or outfits do not change us. We are all the same sinful human beings regardless of what special fancy days, diets our outfits we partake in. That does not change who we are. God does not require any sort of fancy diet, days or outfits to be IN with Him. In fact, they are rather counter productive to being IN with Him. They are just a distraction from following Him. All He asks is that we believe on Him and His Son Jesus and do our best to follow Him. None of these fancy rituals churches have are keys to salvation. They are not needed. For the action that led to our salvation was Jesus’s death and resurrection and has already happened one time for all time for all mankind.
Our salvation comes one way, through our Lord Jesus and by the Grace of God. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Nobody comes to the Father but by Him. He is our salvation. He is the living embodiment of the Word of God. His faith has saved us and made us whole, not our faith. But we need to act for Him to show that we have faith in Him The whole Gospel is based upon is. This is the solid foundation, as Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our faith. We do not identify ourselves by men whose theology we like but by the only man who was perfect Jesus Christ.. And if we follow Him, we have the gift of life as St. Paul explains For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23 KJV)
The problem with the folks that identify themselves as something other than Christian, is they lose sight of the simple principles of Scripture and become more like the Pharisees in finding loopholes to get around and they find themselves going down the wide down hill path instead of the narrow sloping uphill path towards heaven. It is so easy to get lost in the ideas of the various theologians, even in that of John Calvin and Zwingli, that you forget that they were doing their best to be known as followers of Christ. They would frown upon those who identify themselves as Calvinists or Zwinglians, and not as Christians.
It does not matter whose theology you like the best, but what does matter in the end is that you follow Scripture and God and Jesus Christ. In the end that is what will matter, not whose ideas you liked the best. Neither Calvin’s ideas nor Luther’s ideas can save, only Christ and God’s actions and words can save us and heal our souls. We must be dependent on God and not man for our earthly guidance.
For the Holy Ghost would never have us listen to the ideas of man and not God. So, we must take care and review what the leaders of the church say, for there are many who are not listening to God, but only care to please Men to get them to come into their churches. These men are the false prophets Christ has spoken of who disguise themselves as sheep to infiltrate the Church. As the times march on, there will be more of these false Prophets. In the end, people will have to choose who they want to serve, God or Man.
Christanity is about prioritization, putting God’s will for us above our own selfish desires and translating God’s will into action in our lives. This is a continual learning process that will occur for the rest of our earthly lives. We need the help of the Holy Ghost if we are to accomplish this. Prioritization can be as simple as making sure you are rested enough for church on Sunday and making sure you are at home on time for that worship. It is about putting what is important (in this case God’s will) ahead of what is not important.
Throughout the Bible we are exhorted to respect God, be honorable, work hard and take care of our families. If we do these things, following God’s Will, our fiscal standing here on earth will be sound. Follow these precepts, you will never be lacking, but you will never be inordinately wealthy, “Bill Gates rich” so to speak. For to do that requires reprioritization to wealth in the first place.
The last part of this reading is the one we often have the most trouble with. We are far too ready to borrow trouble from tomorrow. Every day, I pray at least twice for help with this. It is getting better; I am confident on one thoughtful level no good comes of worry, yet I have such a hard time acting on that thought. It is a very difficult thing not to worry, but it is something that needs to be done nonetheless. I find as I trust God more and act upon His will more, I worry less. There is a correlation there I believe. It is a very hard thing to do, but it must be done, to ensure our success in spreading the Gospel and being an effective minister of God. Plus, worrying less will provide other benefits as well, and help us to lead happier lives. When we do what God asks, doing our best and not just saying it, there is not a lot to worry about. Even if there is, we can relax, knowing God has everything under control and He will always give us guidance on how to proceed.
God wants you to be happy; He knows what will make you happy. God does not mind if you have fun along the way, but never pursue fun confusing it with happiness. In the end, you won’t find either.
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
 Mammon - a Chaldee or Syriac word meaning "wealth" or "riches" (Luke 16:9-11); also, by personification, the god of riches (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:9-11).
1: wealth regarded as an evil influence
2: (New Testament) a personification of wealth and avarice as an evil spirit.