Sermon Notes 4th Sunday after Easter 2 May 2021 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
The Fourth Sunday after Easter
O ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. 45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. (John 12:44-50)
We have often referred to Christ as the Light of the World and all that the Light means. A Light reveals the true path of security and righteousness. That is what Christ did for us, and He made it possible for us to have the scales removed from our eyes and hearts that we might be benefitted by that Light which He is. The Way itself is a Way laid out by God the Father. All that Christ did or said was in conformity to that commandment given Him by His Father in Heaven. His death and resurrection made the path available to us, as well.
It would be impossible to believe on Christ and omit the Father. That which the Father is, so is Christ; and that which Christ is, so is the Father. The Triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are truly One in Mind and Purpose. It would not be possible for Christ to act in a manner, or speak in a style, that was not in complete agreement with the Mind of God the Father. We believe in God the Father because we have believed on His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ – “… like Father, like Son!” He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. There is no line of separation, either in Power or Majesty, between God the Father and God the Son. Of no other man could this be said without blasphemy.
We are called Christians because we are, presumably, the children of God in Christ. Just as there are many who are not Israel who are of Israel, so it is true that there is a very large percentage who call themselves Christians but do not approach the qualifications to be so called. 45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. Do you KNOW God the Father? If so, are you bound to His Will by those iron-bars of love that compel obedience to His Commandments and reverence for His only Begotten Son? Jesus was so closely bound in love to the Father that He was precisely like the Father. There could not be daylight between His Will and that of the Father. When folks saw Christ, whether they knew it or not, they were seeing the selfsame likeness of the Father. This presents to us a great question: When people see us, are we so close in Mind and Purpose with that of Christ that they see Jesus? I read a touching illustration of a poor little boy who was standing before a storefront window admiring a pair of shoes. It was winter, and the boy had only wrappings for shoes. A kind lady saw the boy and invited him into the store. She bought him a new pair of shoes along with socks and gloves (it was winter time). When she bade the boy Godspeed and began to leave, he called out behind her: “Say, Ma’am, are you the wife of Jesus?” Should we not all behave in such a way that innocent little minds will think that we are very much like Jesus?
The Way is already laid out from Eternity Past. But who shall be blessed to find that Way in a sin-darkened world? 13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matt 7:13-14) Forgive me if I quote these verses too often, but the meaning is so crucial to our understanding that they must be emblazoned in blood on our hearts and minds. That Road that leads DOWN to destruction owes its ease and comfort to its downward plane. It is wide and filled with far greater numbers than the Narrow Way that leads up life eternal. Why would anyone desire to belong to a small and struggling conglomeration of churches called the AOC? They travel a difficult incline, and the Way they travel is considered, by the more sophisticated of the churches, as Narrow-Minded. Yes, we are Narrow Minded, and I pray that we can keep that Narrow focus on our Lord and savior and not opulent buildings, salaries, and prestige. Those are reserved for the Broad Way that leads down.
But the world is dark and gloomy. How can we find the Way that leads to life eternal? 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. Jesus came to us in love, and only to those in whom His love is finally reciprocated. He comes as a Light to SHOW us the Way. Those who reject the Light need no judge, for the darkness itself is an overwhelming judgment and relegates their eternity to the fires of Hell. Oh, sorry, Mr. Episcopalian and Mr. Joel Osteen follower – I forgot that the word Hell is a no-no. It makes people unhappy (Osteen). If we are lost in sin, no one can do us a better favor than to teach us of our depravity before God that leads to a remorseful unhappiness that can only be resolved by a direct fleeing to the Throne of Grace. If we have the Light of Christ to illumine our dark souls, then we will see the Way and will follow it.
Does God judge a man and condemn him to Hell? God’s judgment is His Word. It is the Word that will judge us. God has very fairly and openly taught us of His Will in His Word. If we reject that counsel, we have chosen to make our beds in Hell. It was OUR decision! 47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The world was already lost when Christ came. He simply came bearing the fruits and wisdom of salvation. He came teaching us of the Way, and the Truth and the Life. If we choose to ignore that truth, we simply remain in our lost and damned condition. Even if the world, in its fallen state, were allowed to enter Heaven, it would be the most miserable of all conditions. The world could not obey and reverence the Lord who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They would still love their sins, and there would again follow war in Heaven. That war has already been fought and Satan was cast down along with his errant angels. Those whom He foreknew, He has granted faith through grace to believe.
Isn’t it a sad state of affairs when you decide to invest in an enterprise against the anguished pleadings of your friends, and then lose all in the gamble? Your friends would have every right to say, “I told you so!” Jesus has, indeed, told us so. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. When we label an openly homosexual practitioner as a profligate sinner, whose judgment is that? It is the judgment of the Word of God and not our own judgment. God’s Word is a two edged sword to either convict of sin for the purpose of salvation, or to condemn of sin for the purpose of legal damnation.
Jesus came as an Emissary of Heaven. There were moments when He was so tired He could hardly lift another foot, yet He kept going from before sunrise until after sunset in teaching and preaching – souls were at stake! He was often thirsty and hungry, wet and cold, yet He kept going for us – all the way to Calvary’s crown. As an Emissary and Likeness of the Father, He came with all of the Authority of Heaven. Emissaries do not make treaties and agreements out of their own imaginations, but in accordance with the Will of the governing authority. In Christ’s case, that governing Authority was God the Father. 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. What commandment did God give to His Son that seemed different from the Ten given at Sinai? A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34)
What function does this valuable essence of love offer? It writes all of the other Commandments upon our hearts in the red blood of love so that it is love that compels our obedience and not fear. 2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Cor 3:2-3) Did you catch that brilliant ray of streaming truth, friends? When the world looks at us, they should see the Word of God written upon our hearts. We are the letters (epistles) of God written. No longer written with an iron pen on Tables of Stone, but God’s Law is written with the ink of Love on the fleshy Tables of our Hearts. I love God’s Word, don’t you?
50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. Which single commandment leads to life everlasting? It is the same Commandment called `NEW’ given by Christ in John 13:34 above. Love is the one essence that survives death and is victor over ever hateful thing. Christ Himself is LOVE personified. He is our Ark against the coming calamity just as the Ark of Noah was for those eight souls spared from the ravages of the Deluge. Look with me, in conclusion of today’s sermon, at these beautiful truths given in Romans:
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:36-39) This tells us that the Holy LOVE of which Christ spoke survives every challenge – even death!