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Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion, Descanso, California
Today’s sermon ties together the propers, that is to say the prayer and readings for this week. Consider these words from the Collect:
… we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness …
What Paul speaks of in his Epistle is the great reward we receive for holding steady to that course which God has set for us. For eternal salvation is the delivery promised to each of us by Jesus. God does not promise us an easy life here on Earth, there will be many trials and tribulations set before us. But we have to remember the reward for holding steady to that course will make undergoing all the trials and tribulations worth it. We will under go many triumphs and tribulations, our life will ebb and flow like the waves but as long as we stay the course, then all will be well.
Make no mistake, like a marathon, this run requires frequent training in the Scriptures and acting upon the concepts in Scriptures. And like marathon runners, we receive a wonderful prize. However, it is a prize that has value beyond anything on Earth. The prize is for the promise of an eternal, unending life, to be spent with our Lord and Savior Jesus. It is for the promise of a world unaffected by the tarnish of sin, unblackened by the sinful deeds of imperfect beings. It is an unshadowed world. It shall be true happiness at last, to meet with our beloved family, our Christian heavenly family, friends and beloved pets.
Eternal salvation is a far more priceless treasure than anything we could acquire on Earth, truly priceless except for the death of our Saviour and resurrection. That is the only price involved with our eternal freedom. As the saying goes, there is no free lunch. Eternal life does not come to us without cost. The cost was Jesus’ one time sacrifice for all time for all mankind. Keep the eyes on the prize, as it were! And realize that prize does not come free. We have to run the race set before us and follow Jesus in order to receive our prize of eternal life. We have to be constantly focusing on this fact.
When times get really hard, and it is tempting to give up sometimes; that is when we must redouble our efforts and focus our end goal, remaining on the path towards Heaven. In order to stay focused on the path, we must always remember the end, the arrival in Heaven will outweigh all of the sacrifices, blood, sweat and tears we shed in this life. If we but stay the course, our time after this will be unfathomably wonderful.
Our eyes should be focused on the finish line, not our “competition.” We have a tendency to compare ourselves to the competition but in this case it is not helpful. We need to focus on how we are doing and not our others are doing. We cannot help others if we are too focused on how they are doing while ignoring our own shortcomings. Let us work on our shortcomings first before we even dare to try and help others. Focus on our own part of the race and run it the best we can.
So how do we run the race?
With our eyes focused tightly on the finish line, not on those around us, wondering are they doing ‘better’ than we are? That is not a useful question. Christianity is not about competition, about being other people to the finish line. In fact, it is about helping others around us to the finish line to the best of our abilities, if they are willing to let us help them.
The useful question is, “Am I doing the best I can?” We have to answer that question; if we are not doing our best, then we need to change it. Think of how we can do our best and then set our course to do that. And, we must remember this is a Team Effort. We have to want to win, and in order to win the race set before us; we have to perform actions. Action must first start with our neighbors and work our way outward. We cannot affect the whole world, but if we each work together on our part of the world and work for their, we can change the world. However, it must be a team effort, we cannot all do it alone. Each person in God’s Army has a specific talent and task for them to complete their assigned mission here on Earth. We need support along the way, especially when things get tough, we need our Christian buddies to give us moral support and encouragement from the Word. We want the Christian Team to win. We need to give each team member all the help we can. And we need to be welcoming to each outsider who join the team, and treat them like the lifelong members of the Team. So, with that in mind, we must DO our best and not just say it, and we do that by acting upon the Word, not just reading it, but acting.
Acting is the best visible proof to others that we do indeed have faith. Faith without any sort of actions is a false faith. But if we have faith with action backing it up then we have the true faith. It is not good enough to just read the Word, we need to read what the Word says and then put it into action in our own lives.
The Gospel for today, the very important parable of the vineyard, also gives us very good advice on the conduct of our daily lives and contains a crucial key to happiness. There is the lesson that the deathbed conversion gains the same prize of eternal life as the lifelong follower, but there is a lot more in it for everyday life. A person who comes to Christ late in life receives the same eternal benefits as a person who followed Christ from the age of reason.
It is a fine lesson in “buyer’s remorse” or coveting of jobs or similar concepts. If you got a good deal, it does not change because someone else got a “better” deal. Take what you got, go forth and be happy. Don’t complain because somebody else got the same deal as you did sooner. One meaning of this parable is that “cradle” Christians are no more likely to go to heaven than this morning’s convert. They just get to enjoy the Christian experience longer. However, you should not wait until the last minute to join the gang, your time here might end before you get around to it. So, don’t wait until tomorrow to act, do it today while you still have time!
Sometimes people act like being a Christian is an unpleasant experience that they will do when they get a round TUIT. It is not. Christians aren’t perfect, they just have more fun being imperfect and imperfectly trying to improve!
Christ gave us eternal life. But, we have to accept it. Once you accept it, start living as if you will live forever. You will; and you will have to live with your actions forever! So, Act early and Act often!
There is but one way to heaven.
That easy to find, easy to follow, easy to hike downhill path does not lead to the summit where eternal life in the real world awaits. Open your heart to the Holy Ghost, use His Power to follow our Lord to God who awaits in heaven.
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
 John Newton; 4 August 1725 – 21 December 1807) was an English Anglican cleric, a captain of slave ships who later became an abolitionist, and an investor of trade. He served as a sailor in the Royal Navy for a period after forced recruitment.
Newton went to sea at a young age and worked on slave ships in the slave trade for several years. In 1745, he himself became a slave of Princess Peye, a woman of the Sherbro people. He was rescued, returned to sea and the trade, becoming Captain of several slave ships. After retiring from active sea-faring, he continued to invest in the slave trade. Some years after experiencing a conversion to Christianity, Newton later renounced his trade and became a prominent supporter of abolitionism. Now an evangelical, he was ordained as a Church of England cleric and served as parish priest at Olney, Buckinghamshire, for two decades. He also wrote hymns, the most well known beng "Amazing Grace"