This is the very first issue of
the AOC Sunday Report. At the
request of Bishop Jerry Ogles, the Faithful Centurion’s Sunday Report has
morphed into the AOC Worldwide Sunday Report. Bishop Jerry asks each of the parishes to contribute to the
report, some as they have in the past others for the first time. If you have any suggestions for change,
please send them to Bishop Jerry or me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday after Easter
Today was the First Sunday after
Easter, the central event of the Christian year, the celebration of our Lord,
“Christ the Lord is Risen!”
Someone asked, where do the quotes come
from? The answer is from the people
who uttered them. But, how did you
find them? Oh, that. Some from Bishop Jerry, many from Rev
Bryan Dabney, a few from other places, some from Rev Geordie Menzies-Grierson, but
overall mostly from Bryan. He
always has some great ones to share. On to the On Point quotes –
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:
for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I
I exhort you to watch against everything
which might interfere with a readiness for Christ’s appearing. Search your own
hearts. Find out the things which most frequently interrupt your communion with
Christ, and causes fogs to rise between you and the sun. Mark these things, and
know them, and against them ever be on your guard.
19th century Anglican bishop and
(Are You Ready For The End Of Time, p.
Do not begin telling me that there is a
metaphorical fire in hell. Who worries about that? If a man were to threaten to
give me a metaphorical blow on the head, I should worry very little about it.
He would be welcome to give me as many as he pleased. And what do the wicked
say? ‘We do not worry about metaphorical fires.’ But they are real, sir, yes,
as real as yourself.
19th century English pastor and
What can we learn from citizen disarmament
· Any government which seeks to disarm its
citizens is doing so not so much for citizen protection, but to smooth the way
for their plundering of them.
· Without personal protection, the citizenry
will be subject to predation by not only the government, but of those elements
that were not disarmed.
· Resistance to tyranny is a forlorn hope
without the access to arms.
· Any nation which engages in citizen
disarmament has joined a special club that may rightly be called “Tyrants Are
You can't conquer a free man; the most you
can do is kill him.
20th century American author
Liberal critics... contend that capitalism
encourages monopolies. The real source of monopolies, however, is not the free
market but governmental intervention with the market. The only monopolies that
have ever lasted did so in partnership with government support through decree
Gills, MD and Ronald Nash, PhD
20th century American economic
Is Too Big And It’s Costing You, p. 39)
Each Sunday there are Propers:
special prayers and readings from the Bible. There is a Collect for the Day; that is a single thought
prayer, most written either before the re-founding of the Church of England in
the 1540s or written by Bishop Thomas Cranmer, the first Archbishop of
Canterbury after the re-founding.
The Collect for the Day is to be
read on Sunday and during Morning and Evening Prayer until the next Sunday. The
Epistle is normally a reading from one of the various Epistles, or letters, in
the New Testament. The Gospel is a
reading from one of the Holy Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Collect is said by the minister as
a prayer, the Epistle can be read by either a designated reader (as we do in
our church) or by one of the ministers and the Holy Gospel, which during the
service in our church is read by an ordained minister.
The propers are the same each
year, except if a Red Letter Feast, that is one with propers in the prayerbook,
falls on a Sunday, then those propers are to be read instead, except in a White
Season, where it is put off. Red
Letter Feasts, so called because in the Altar Prayerbooks the titles are in
red, are special days. Most of the
Red Letter Feasts are dedicated to early saints instrumental in the development
of the church, others to special events.
Some days are particularly special and the Collect for that day is to be
used for an octave (eight days) or an entire season, like Advent or Lent.
The Propers for today are found
on Page 170-171, with the Collect first:
First Sunday after Easter.
LMIGHTY Father, who hast given thine only Son to die for our
sins, and to rise again for our justification; Grant us so to put away the
leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve thee in pureness of
living and truth; through the merits of the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Today’s Epistle came from the
First General Epistle of Saint John, the Fifth Chapter beginning at the Fourth
is born of
God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even
our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that
Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus
Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that
beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear
record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are
And there are three that bear
witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood:
and these three agree in one. If we receive
the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of
God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God
hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar;
because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the
record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He
that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
Holy Gospel for this Sunday comes from the Twentieth Chapter of the
Gospel of Saint John beginning at the Nineteenth verse:
he same day at evening, being the
first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were
assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith
unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his
hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord. Then
said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so
send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto
them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted
unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.
We are oft fortunate to get
copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.
Today is one of those Sundays.
Today’s sermon starts off with the collect, and like always, it will
give you a lot to consider in your heart.
St Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church
27 April 2014,
Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)
First Sunday after Easter.
LMIGHTY Father, who hast given thine only Son to die for our
sins, and to rise again for our justification; Grant us so to put away the
leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve thee in pureness of
living and truth; through the merits of the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week,
when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the
Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed
unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw
the Lord. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace
be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he
had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose
soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye
retain, they are retained.
should prosper our love and understanding of the fear the disciples experienced
following the crucifixion, and bolster our confidence in our security in Christ.
Only having heard, through a veil of ignorance, the Words of Christ that after
the third day He would arise, the disciples were not expecting the Words of
Christ to become a literal fact. So they hid and cowered behind closed doors.
While He was
yet with them, their courage never failed, but when separated from the physical
presence of Christ – they were mere cowards.
You will note
that Christ rose from the Tomb with a living body though different in some
respects than His pre-crucifixion body. He was recognizable in appearance, but
He could also pass through material barriers without any impediment.
He came to
His disciples in Peace as He always comes to us. “Peace
be unto you!”
body still retained the scars of His sacrifice. Did you know that when we all
get to heaven, we will have perfect bodies? There shall be only One whose body
is marred from suffering – the Lord Jesus Christ.
us into the World as His Father had sent Him. Let us stop to contemplate on how
the Father sent the Son into the World?
1) He came
under humble circumstances having been born of a humble mother, and laid in a
wooden manger used for feeding sheep. That was appropriate for Christ is
our Bread of Life and we are the Sheep of His Pasture.
lived a normal life for His time and was a carpenter for his surrogate father,
Joseph. We must, likewise, labor for our daily bread.
3) He was
notable in His innocence of life. When we are notoriously wicked, the whole
world notices. But when we are humble and righteous, the world makes no mention
of it. We, too, must live lives that are righteous and above the contempt of
4) He came to
set the captives free, but who are the captives? Those who are burdened with
their heavy sins – all of us. He preached and taught. Our true testimony of
Christ will likewise set the captives free. Before we can teach others of the
means of coming to Christ to lift their burdens, we must first allow Him to
lift our own unbecoming yoke and burden.
5) He showed
compassion to all, but greatest of all to sinners who KNEW they were sinners.
We must show compassion to ALL men and, especially, those who are hopelessly
drowning in a sea of sin. A drowning man flails helpless in the briny foam,
unable to save himself. That burden of throwing out the life raft falls to us.
proved Himself by His works. So must we. Though we cannot perform miracles, we
have a Master who can, indeed.
7) He changed
the requirements of obedience from that of strictly adhering to Commandments
written on Stone Tables to that of the Commandment of Love written in the soft
sinews of our hearts. That which we love warrants that we commit no sin
8) He was the
only Man ever born without sin, and the only One who lived a sinless life.
Thereby He was worthy to die in our stead for our sins. “For all have sinned
and fallen short of the righteousness of God’ and “The wages of sin is
death.” If we all have sinned, we deserved to go to the cross instead of
Christ. But He went in our stead so that we may have the privileges of son ship
with the Father as sons and daughters of God.
9) He bore
all of our sins on the cross when, at any moment, He could have come down from
the cross. He was WILLING to go all the way for us. We must be WILLING to go
all the way for Him and those He loves.
10) He arose
from the Tomb on the third day as He had promised. That gives us the privilege
to rise from our own graves if we are in Him and He in us. He is our Ark of
Salvation that shall insure our living above the floods and terrors of this
ascended to the Father and there intercedes for us with Him. He has left us as
keepers of the Vineyard to labor in His stead. The teaching of the Apostles
persists today though many have waxed cold and passionless in our day. Our task
is to press on to the mark set in Christ by living a pure and clean life and
telling others about the hope that is in us in Christ Jesus.
lived the kind of life that causes men to know you belong to Christ?
the 11th day
since the sinking of the Korean cruise ship, SEWOL, on April 16th on which some 300 high school students perished. Some died of drowning,
some of exhaustion, some of suffocation – but all died because the man who had
the responsibility of directing them to safety was the first to abandon ship
(her captain – aged 69). One young lady, PARK Ji Young, aged 22 years, remained
on board to help rescue as many souls as possible. She even gave a student her
own life vest. Her body was later found floating in the frigid waters of the
We have a
Captain of our Souls who will neither leave nor forsake us – that Captain is
the Master of the Seas and His name is the Lord Jesus Christ!
One of my
favorite passages from Scripture is of the perils of the Sea and reads:
that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; 24 These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. 25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up
the waves thereof. 26 They mount up to the heaven, they go
down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at
their wits' end. 28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their
trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. 29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. 30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them
unto their desired haven. 31 Oh that men would praise the LORD for
his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (Psalms 107:23-31)
character and conviction have changed immensely since the sinking of the
Titanic when men charitably and chivalrously gave up their seats on life rafts
to women and children. Men’s hearts, since the abandonment of the Christian
faith by the greater society in America, have waxed more and more cold and
A survey was
recently conducted in universities across American asking the young men if
they, too, would have given their seats in a lifeboat to the women and
children. Amazingly, 95% said they would not even consider such a foolish act.
They would take their places of safety in the boats and let the women and
children perish before surrendering their own lives.
To me, this
is an astonishing sign of the great depths of depravity of soul to which
mankind has sunk over the past one hundred years. Why? Because, though we may
profess Christ with our lips, our hearts are far from Him.
How close is
YOUR Heart to Christ this First Sunday after Easter? Would you lay down your
life to save a child or its mother?
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso,
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and
Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.
We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter
and the following four Sundays, until we get to 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
to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification; Grant us so to
put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve thee in
pureness of living and truth …
God sent Jesus to be The
Christ, The Messiah, The Savior, The Lamb to be sacrificed for our sin. He gave His earthly Life, He went down
into Hell, that we might be justified before God at our accounting. Not that we might be perfect, but that
we might be accounted perfect at our judgment day. Yet we are not made perfect. Just because we are going to be
accounted as perfect does not mean we are. Thus we must ask God’s help that we can put away the
infection, or leaven, of evil in our hearts so that we can serve the Living God
here. Without His Help, we cannot
remove the hate and evil from our hearts.
We need His Help so we can move forward.
Paul continually tells us we
must be reborn as a new person in God.
We must put on the New Man and put the Old Man behind us. We must endeavor to leave our old
habits behind as we strive to make new practices into habits. We cannot follow the direction of Jesus
towards God without the help of the Holy Ghost. The Trinity in practice. If you believe in Jesus, you must believe in God and you can
do neither without the help of the Holy Ghost. Without the Holy Ghost, we are
like men who desperately need glasses to see. Without the Holy Ghost as our
correcting lens, we cannot see what He wants us to see in order to act.
When Jesus came to the
disciples on Sunday evening, He breathed the Holy Ghost into their hearts. He gave the disciples the power to pass
His Forgiveness on to their followers.
As ministers of God, we follow the disciples, but we have not the power
to forgive, except as we find in the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We do have the ability to tell you that if you repent, that
is “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of
one's life,” then God will forgive you. Through our Lord, if you repent, He has forgiven you.
The key word here is
repent! We must “go and sin no
more!”, as Christ told the lady who was an adulterer. We repent not only in
word, but we must repent in our deeds also, so that we can truly show the world
that we have faith. If we do not repent, then we do not have faith in Him. We
must have faith in Him, so therefore, we must truly and earnestly repent of our
sins and do our utmost best to “go and sin no more.” That is all that He asks,
is us to actually DO our best, not just say that we are doing our best.
So what to take from all this?
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.
If you get that, you have the
Holy Ghost in your heart. If you
open your heart, He will breathe the breath that sends The Comforter to you.
Then you shall have the knowledge to act the way He wants you to act. You will
have surefire knowledge of the course that He wants you to take.
When the time comes, how will you ACT?
It is by our actions we are known.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God
Dennis Campbell’s Sermon
Bishop Dennis is a brilliant
speaker. He is able to take
biblical precepts and make them perfectly understandable, even to me. Oft he provides the text of his sermons
and I take the utmost pleasure in passing them on:
Psalm 103, Isaiah 43:1-12, Luke 24:36-49
First Sunday after Easter
This morning’s Scripture Lessons have the
common theme of witnessing the mighty acts of God. Psalm 103:7 says God
“showed His ways unto Moses, His works unto the children of Israel.” “Ye
are my witnesses,” God says to Israel in Isaiah 43:10, “that ye may know and
believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed,
neither shall there be after me. I, even I am the Lord; and beside me there is
no saviour.” Luke 24:48 records the words of Christ to the men who would
soon become the Apostles, “ye are witnesses of these things,” meaning His death
I want to concentrate on Christ’s words in
Luke 24, because they address the men who would become the foundation of
Christ’s Church. It is they who preached the Gospel of Christ, they who
wrote the Scriptures, they who formed the faith and practice we still believe
and practice today in the Anglican Orthodox Church. It is important to us
to know that these men were witnesses to the things they spoke and wrote about,
and for which they eventually suffered and died. They saw “these things.”
Thus, John wrote that the Apostles declare “that… which we have heard, which we
have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands handled” (1
Jn. 1:1). “That which we have seen declare we unto you” (1 Jn.
1:3). Peter, in Acts 2:32 was speaking of the resurrection of Christ when
he said of himself and the other Apostles, “we are all witnesses.”
These men saw, heard and touched Jesus.
They were there when He turned the water into wine. They were there when He
stilled the sea and walked on the water. They saw Him restore the sight
of blind Bartimaeus. They saw Him cast out the demon they could not exorcise,
the one Jesus said only comes out by much prayer and fasting. They saw
Lazarus walk out of the tomb, still reeking of death and decay, but whole and
well and alive again. They saw Christ betrayed, arrested, “crucified,
dead, and buried.” They saw Him die. They probably helped Joseph of
Arimathaea remove His body from the cross and lay it in the tomb. They
touched His cold, lifeless flesh. There was no doubt about His
death. The Romans knew how to kill, and nobody ever came down from the
cross alive. In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens wrote, “Marley was
dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the
story I am about to relate.” The rest of the story will make no sense if that
fact is not grasped. The same is true of the Bible. Christ was
dead, and none of the Bible will make any sense to you until you really grasp
and accept that fact in your soul. He was truly “crucified, dead, and
buried.” But, just as they saw Him dead and buried, they also saw Him alive
again. They saw the risen Christ. They saw the empty tomb, the angelic
messengers. They saw Him in the upper room which we read about in Luke 24 this
morning. They saw Him ascend into Heaven. They were witnesses to
But they didn’t just see what He did, they
also saw what He was. They saw His compassion, generosity, power, and His
genuine and complete goodness. They saw that He is the Light, and the
Life, and the Power and the Glory. They saw that He is God. They saw that
in Him God was present with them. He truly was, is, and ever shall be
Emmanuel, God with us. They saw that He is the Truth. When He
spoke, God spoke. What He said, God said. What He was, God
is. They saw Him give Himself on the cross to save us, to bring us back
to God, and they knew that by His blood their souls were made clean.
The Apostles saw all of these things, and
they bear witness of what they saw. But, as John reminds us, they also
heard Christ. They declare what they have heard. And what words
they heard from the lips of Christ. Words like:
“I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd giveth His life
for the sheep.” “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never
perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” “Seek ye first
the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.”
And, some of my favourite words, from John
Let not you
heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s
house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to
prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will
come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be
also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith
unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the
way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man
cometh unto the Father but by me.”
One day soldiers were sent to arrest
Jesus, but they heard His words and let Him go free. Questioned by their
superiors, they said, “Never man spake like this man (Jn. 7:46). One day
when many turned away from Christ, He challenged the disciples, saying, “Will
ye also go away?” Simon Peter answered for all of them, and I hope, all
of us, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (Jn.
6:68). “Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the
way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” said the disciples when Christ
spoke to them on the Emmaus Road. The Apostles heard these words, and
declare them unto us.
When Christ told the Apostles that
repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name, He was
implying that they were the ones who would preach it. In fact it is
implicit in Luke 24:48 that, as His witnesses, they would tell others what they
saw and heard in Christ. If we look back at 1 John 1:3 again we see this
clearly stated, for John wrote, “That which we have seen and heard declare
we unto you. To a great extent, the New Testament is their
declaration. In it the Apostles declare “all that Jesus began both to do
and to teach” (Acts 1:1). And so we have in the New Testament the
testimony of these witnesses. They are telling us what they saw and heard
and touched in Jesus. And this is the purpose of their testimony; that we
may believe and be saved. They wrote, as Isaiah said, “that ye may know and
believe [God].” This is what the testimony of Scripture and the witnesses want
from you; see, and believe. Believe and be reconciled to God.
Anglican Orthodox Church Diocese of Virginia
Holy Trinity Anglican Orthodox Church
Rev Rick Reid of
Saint Peter’s Sunday Sermon
We are happy to have a
sermon from Reverend Rick Reid, minister of Saint Peter’s, whose congregation
is right at the Worldwide Headquarters of the Anglican Orthodox Church. Rev Rick has all the resources and challenges
right at hand. This sermon is not
in the usual expository style common to the Sunday Report and the AOC, but I
think you will enjoy it.
What the Cross Should Mean to Us
Christ is Risen, The
Lord is risen indeed! Did you know the cross is the most widely known religious
symbol in the world? You see the cross on churches, you see people wearing
cross necklaces, pins, and all kinds of jewelry. We sometimes see athletes make
the sign of the cross during sporting events. The cross has many different meanings
to many different people. But what does the cross mean to you? History and more
importantly, the Bible, tell us the cross wasn’t always such a popular symbol.
During the days of Jesus, the cross was a symbol of shame and embarrassment, a
symbol of warning and terror to the occupied people of Israel. The Roman Empire
used the cross as a means of execution, and it was considered to be an
extremely shameful and painful way to die.
The Roman emperor
Constantine is credited with
allowing Christianity to exist as a recognized religion. Christian sources
record Constantine experienced a dramatic event in 312 AD, at the Battle of
Milvian Bridge after which he claimed the emperorship in the West. According to
these sources, Constantine looked up to the sun before the battle and saw a
cross of light and written in Greek "Ἐν Τούτῳ Νίκα" ("by this, win!"). Constantine
commanded his troops to adorn their shields with a Christian symbol (the
Chi-Rho), Kie-Row, and thereafter they were victorious. The cross was not common
in religious art until the fourth century, when everyone who had ever seen a
live crucifixion had died.
But what does the cross
symbolize to you? For one man in the early first century, the cross began as a
symbol of death, but then became a symbol of life, and forgiveness. Jesus was
led out to be crucified along with two criminals. When they came to a place
called “the Skull,” the Roman soldiers crucified Jesus, with one criminal on
his left, and one on his right. Here a prophecy is fulfilled: Isaiah had
foretold that Jesus would be numbered with the transgressors. When Jesus was
hung on the cross, he was lowered to the level of a criminal. He was brought
down to the same level as those other two criminals, and everyone else who had
ever been crucified.
Many people were mocking
Christ, including these two criminals. (I paraphrase now from St Luke’s
Gospel), one of the criminals said: aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself, and
us!” “If you’re the Messiah, the Son of God, like you say you are, why don’t you
get out of this situation?, and get us out of here too! This criminal
blasphemes Christ, mocking his claim to be the Son of God.
The way this criminal
blasphemes the Messiah reminds us of how many in our world today blaspheme
Christ. Jesus is the Son of God? I don’t think so. Why doesn’t he prove it? Why
doesn’t he do something to prove that he is the Son of God, someone I
should worship? Prove it!”
Some people today mock the idea of Jesus being the Saviour of the
world, just like that criminal hanging next to Jesus. Unfortunately, we
sometimes have more in common with that criminal who mocked Christ than we
would like to admit. In the eyes of God, all of us really, are criminals. All
of us have led lives of disobedience and rebellion against God. Do things this
way, God says. And we say, No, I’ll do things my way instead. We live lives
that violate God’s will, over and over again. You and I are criminals in the
eyes of God. When things don’t go our way, we begin to have fears and doubts.
We are sinners, and ultimately, it is because of our sin that Jesus
suffered and died on the cross. It wasn’t the Jews. It wasn’t the Romans. But
it was us, our rebellion against Him, our sin… that’s what put Christ on the
cross. That’s why he suffered, taking the punishment that we deserve for our
But listen to this, one of the criminals has a change of heart. Instead
of continuing to mock Christ, he grows silent, and then he rebukes his fellow
criminal: 40 Dost not thou fear God,
seeing thou art in the same condemnation?41 And we indeed
justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done
nothing amiss.42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when
thou comest into thy kingdom.43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily
I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise
A change of heart takes place in this criminal. He starts to defend
Christ. He confesses his sinful life; we are getting what our deeds deserve. He
even acknowledges that Jesus is innocent.
What was happening in the heart of this criminal? He was repenting. The
Holy Spirit was working in him. Perhaps, as he hung from the cross, he realized
the depth of his sin.
Perhaps he remembered
all the things he had learned about the Messiah when he was younger, the idea
of a suffering Messiah, a Messiah that would be mocked. As he hung from the
cross, the Holy Spirit led him to repent, to believe that Jesus was the
He defends Christ. He
confesses his sin. And then, he turns to Christ, and says, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy
kingdom. In other words, I repent of my life as a criminal. I repent of
my mockery. I believe that you are a king, the Messiah who was to come. I
believe that you have fulfilled the Old Testament prophesy. I believe that you
are a King who shows mercy. Forgive me for the life I have led. Forgive me for
the way I mocked you. When you come into your kingdom, have mercy on me. Lord,
These words of repentance are also our words, aren’t they? As we see
Jesus die on the cross, we also pray, “O Lord, forgive me for my life of
rebelling against you. Forgive me for doubting you and questioning you. Forgive
me. Have mercy on me. Remember me, when you come into your kingdom.
And Jesus, even though he was being shown no mercy… showed mercy
to that criminal. Verily
I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Crucifixion was often a two or three day process. But Jesus tells this
man, today, this very day, you will be in paradise, heaven that
wonderful place where those in Christ go. This very day, you will be there, and
you’ll be there with me, your Messiah, your King. Jesus gives to this man an
unconditional pardon; he completely and totally forgives him, and gives him the
hope of eternal life.
Why?, because, at that very moment, Jesus was dying for that criminal’s
sins on the cross. At that very moment, Jesus was dying for all that man’s
criminal acts against society and against God. Jesus was paying for that. All that mockery, Jesus was paying for
that too. What amazing love, that as Jesus suffers for this man, he offers him
forgiveness, an unconditional pardon, the sure hope of eternal life.
Jesus does the same thing for us. How is it that Jesus can say to us, Without
a doubt, you are forgiven? I am with you always, and someday, you will be with
me in paradise.” Jesus says that to you, how?
Because on the cross,
Jesus took all of our sins away, past, present, and future. All the different
ways we have rebelled against God, Jesus, paid for those sins. Jesus offers to
us an unconditional pardon, a clean slate, the sure hope of eternal life with
What did the cross mean for this criminal? At first, I’m sure; it was a
symbol of shame, terror and death. It meant that he was found guilty and was
paying the price for his sins. But now, because of what Jesus said to him
there, the cross takes on a new meaning for him. Here is where he meets his
Saviour. Here is where he confesses his sin. Here is where he receives a
wonderful pardon from the Son of God. The cross is where he receives his
What should the cross mean to you? All kinds of things should come to
mind. You see, we are all that criminal at Calvary. And as we consider the sins
in our lives and wonder, can God really forgive us? Then, remember the cross. There
Jesus calls out to us, and assures us that we are forgiven, that we will be
with him in paradise.
Every Sunday morning, you hear God forgives you. It’s because of the
cross. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism, the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, these
are God’s gifts to you, made possible only by the cross. Why is it, that God
hears our prayers? How can we be so confident that God really does love us, and
that there is a place in heaven for us? It’s because of the cross.
May the cross always remind us of Jesus Christ, and of his death, and
passion. But most of all, the salvation that is ours because of His mighty
resurrection on that Easter Sunday. Amen.
Rev Bryan Dabney of Saint John’s Sunday
We are fortunate to
have Bryan’s Sunday Sermon. If you
want people to come to The Truth, you have to speak the truth, expouse the
truth and live the truth.
This is really a good piece and I
commend it to your careful reading.
First Sunday after Easter
In Revelation 1:4-20 we read of the apostle John’s commission to the
seven churches which are in Asia(v. 4) wherein he was instructed by our Lord
to, Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the
things which shall be hereafter (v. 19). From the beginning, God has utilized
both the prophets and the apostles to communicate to mankind his firm intention
to bring an end to the wicked powers which now hold sway over our world. In the
Old Testament, he gave the prophet Amos to write: Surely the Lord GOD will do
nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets (3:7). To
the prophet Isaiah he said, Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told
thee from that time and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses... (44:8).
And to Zechariah, he posited the query: Should ye not hear the words which the
LORD hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in
prosperity... ? (7:7).
In St. Matthew’s gospel, our Lord prophesied concerning the end of days
(24:1-24), wherein he explained the course of events
that would transpire prior to his glorious appearing; after which, he reminded
the disciples, Behold, I have told you before (v. 25) signifying that he had discussed this with them earlier in his
ministry. St. Paul noted that believers should not be soon shaken in mind, or
be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that
the day of Christ is at hand... for that day shall not come, except there come
a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed... (II Thessalonians 2:2-3). St. Peter noted in his first epistle that,
the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer (4:7). St. Jude admonished all to, remember ye the
words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how that
they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after
their own ungodly lusts (vv. 17-18). The Bible
tells us that, All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (II St. Timothy 3:16-17). And so it follows, that the Book of
Revelation— like every other book of the Bible— has been given to us for our
edification and enlightenment. Unlike the Old Testament book of Daniel, it is
not a sealed book (22:10) as our Lord would have us to read it for our
eternal good (Revelation
With that in mind, let us examine the messages he gave to the beloved
apostle concerning the seven churches of Asia Minor. We will also see how they
apply to the churches of today.
To the church at Ephesus, our Lord applauded their works and their
patience and how they had rejected the false and deceptive among them. He also
chided them for their turning away from their love for the gospel. As Matthew
Henry noted, “Those who have much good in them may have something much amiss in
them, and our Lord Jesus, as an impartial Master and Judge, takes notice of
both.” It would seem that in their zeal, the Christians at Ephesus had lost
sight of the purpose for their zeal. This is something every believing church
body must keep ever before them: that the object of our worship is God through
Christ Jesus. Our works will be meaningless without the imprimatur of Christ
upon them as we are not working for ourselves but for him.
The church at Smyrna was recognized by our Lord to be a faithful body
of believers who were under persecution. He advised them to Fear none of those
things which thou shalt suffer (2:10). Those who face persecution are often
burdened with fearfulness, and fear can diminish faith if it is allowed to grow
within the body. Our Lord’s victory at the cross vanquished the fear of sin and
death, and so it is fitting that all who are born again in his name are also
victors with him and co-heirs of God’s kingdom. Therefore, our Lord expects us
to live that victory which he has won for us on Calvary’s cross.
The church at Pergamos was chided by our Lord for its embrace of the
doctrines of Balaam, and the Nicolaitanes. The former involved the worship of
idols and included many false teachings relative to worship and church order.
The latter speaks of the formalizing of a priestly hierarchy that lorded over
the laity. Our Lord desires that we reject those human traditions which violate
his moral and ethical laws. We must therefore worship the Godhead with
reverence. We must adhere to the established order for the administration of
the word through the offices of the bishop, the priest or presbyter, and the
deacon. Consider the admonition of Bishop Ryle: “We must be careful that we do
not give ministers a place and honour which does not belong to them. We must
never allow them to come between us and Christ. The very best are not
infallible. They are not priests who can atone for us. They are not mediators
who can undertake to manage our soul's affairs with God. They are men like us,
needing the same cleansing blood, the same renewing Spirit, men set apart to a
high and holy calling, but still, after all, only men. Human nature, alas,
always prefers a visible minister to an invisible Christ. Nor must the
minister, or any Christian, desire to be great in the eyes of men, but rather
great in the eyes of Christ. His aim must be not so much to rule the church as
to serve it, not a master but a servant.”
The church at Thyatira was a mix of the profane and the godly. Our Lord
recognized their good qualities, but he rebuked them for permitting their faith
and practice to become linked to harlotry and idolatry. There is no substitute
for offering God what he expects. Denying our Lord the proper worship he
desires will not bring us a blessing but a something far less. The introduction
of women priests, and other persons with sordid and licentious beliefs can only
mark a church body as being more akin to Sodom than to Christ.
The church at Sardis was referred to as partly dead and partly alive.
Our Lord advised them to be watchful and strengthen the things which remain. A
dead church will not listen to our Lord Jesus Christ because Satan has gotten a
foothold there, while those that are alive will heed his calling. The dead
church is liken unto the whited sepulchres that outwardly appear pleasant, but
are inwardly filled with dead men’s bones. These churches contain many
spiritually dead souls who are pretending to be spiritually alive. Their lack
of a proper biblical understanding and their acceptance of those godless tenets
of Modernism reveal them to be more akin to a mausoleum rather than a fold of
the living Christ.
The church at Philadelphia was blessed of our Lord on account of their
true and abiding faith in him. All who worship the Godhead in Spirit and in
Truth, who heed his warnings and trust in his word will one day receive his
reward of an open door and his divine preservation from the hour of temptation
which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth. Our
Lord has said that evil shall not prevail against his church, and in that we
should take much comfort. Keeping ourselves in the word and remaining faithful
will open the door of God’s blessings to us, but we have the added benefit of
being kept from the terrible time to come when the whole world will fall under
Satan’s great deceiver— the Antichrist.
The last church mentioned was Laodicea. It was rich in the things of
this world and believed it needed nothing else; but to our Lord, it was a
church that was wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Those
of Laodicea were— as their name is interpreted— judges unto themselves
concerning the things of God. The current version of Laodicea is no different.
Nevertheless, if Laodicean Christians think that they can manipulate Scripture
to suit their jaded opinions and earthy desires, it will not be long before they
fall completely away from their standing as a godly church, and thus be
transformed into a synagogue of Satan.
The seven churches are also seven witnesses. They are witnesses on
behalf of our Lord in either the positive or the negative. As to the former,
they proclaim the gospel of peace to a sin darkened world. As to the latter,
they are objects of warning as our Lord will judge all unconfessed offenses
with severity. Today, we have a choice to take to ourselves those godly
characteristics of the seven churches of Asia and live by them, or else succumb
to their several evils. God has given us his word, so there is no excuse on our
part for not following it. Purpose then in your heart today to be obedient to
God’s will and commandment so that you might have life and have it in
ather, assist us as we walk the pilgrim’s path of
this mortal life; that in all things we might stand for the truth of thy word
written and reach out to others that they too might do the same; for this we
ask in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Have a blessed week, Bryan+