Summary: The true Gospel message is everywhere in the bible, yet most church goes cannot see it. They cannot see the wood for the trees. This short sermon hopefully summarises this message in a way that relates to people.
This sermon was delivered to the congregation in Holy Trinity in Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 4th September 2016.
(A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of
Glasgow & Dumfries)
Prayer: Loving God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, open our hearts and our minds that we may hear with joy your message today, and that we live in the assurance of your love forever. Amen.
Our gospel reading this morning is from the book of Luke 14:25-33. “Now large crowds were traveling with Jesus; and he turned and said to them, "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, `This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions."
I was asked the other day, by a prominent member in this church as to who has influenced me the most from a Christian prospective.
Well like most of us, there are too many people to name; and more to take the blame, because getting things wrong is part and parcel of the Christian life; but it is how we handle it, and how we recover that sets us apart.
Now long are I came to know the Lord, I was struggling with the Bible, Christianity and the Church. In fact I was seeing the church, any church, as being infinitely more political and points scoring than my workplace. The one-upmanship was horrendous, and I was struggling to see where God was in all this. My attitude at the time was try even harder, to become more what Christians are mean to be like, leading a good clean life, being nice to people, but as you would guess, the harder I tried, the harder I failed. You see the problem wasn’t me directly, the problem was I was letting others use and abuse me, others who had their own issues and ambitions, others who had no true sense of the Gospel either, and I fell for their rhetoric time and time again.
By accident, I came across two Evangelists, one an American whom I met in Ayr, a man named Andrew Wommack, (from Andrew Wommack Ministries International), who help reveal to me the true meaning of the Gospel, and how the Lord loves us regardless of our sin, but how the Lord hated our sin so much as it got in the way of us being useful to him. The other Evangelist that open things up for me was an English Evangelist called Derek Prince, (Derek Prince Ministries), who taught me that the bible is logical from start to finished, if only we could see it, and I liked that because I was an Engineer for over 25 years before I became a school teacher.
And so, when I saw the Gospel in a logical format, I could see that the Lord needs to forgive our sins when we ask for his forgiveness and drink of his cup, however, he also puts things into motion that changes our basic internal nature to deal with past sin, things that are out with our control, things that are usually uncomfortable, but things that try and test us, … and when we come through the other side, we are literally transformed into someone new.
I mean, I really shudder at the things I have done wrong in the past, but I know that these cold feelings are constantly reminders to me that God has, and is cleaning me up on the inside, saying this is what I was like, and this is what I am like now, and had God not intervened, I would have been none the wiser, however this is shown as embarrassment for my past failures and sorrow for the people I have hurt. I have by no means reached a destination, but I have certainly left.
What I am getting at here is that once the Lord has tried and tested us, we are truly sorry for our past, and a such, there is no way that we will ever repeat our past sins through choice, as our old internal nature has changed, but not through any efforts of our own. It is not us who are bringing about this change but him who is guiding and leading us on this earth, preparing us for a place in heaven.