Summary: There are two types of people in this world: those who relate to the beatitudes of Jesus, and those who do not. The beatitudes are not rules or laws, but something that causes us to react with whatever spirit is driving us within.
This sermon was delivered at Holy Trinity, Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland on Sunday the 29th January 2017; Holy Trinity is a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries.
The readings for today are:
Please join me in a short prayer from Psalms 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Amen.
The phrase, "Man's inhumanity to man" is known to us all, but it was only recently that I found out that it was first documented in a poem by Robert Burns called, “Man was made to mourn”. It was a Dirge of course, written in 1784, but it was possible that Burns reworded this from a similar quote from Samuel von Pufendorf who wrote, "More inhumanity has been done by man himself than any other of nature's causes."
And we all know this to be true, … look at the Holocaust alone, absolutely horrible, … the atrocities were beyond comprehension and so I would hate to think that man (or woman), has all the answers, even though some claim to have, … however, that is why I find it refreshing to hear 1st Corinthians 1:18 this morning which read, “For the preaching of the cross, to them that perish, is foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God”. I love that verse and I will tell you why, … it tells us that we are on a journey, … a special journey with the one and only God. ... And this is very different to the words of any other religion such as Buddhism, Sikhism, Muslimism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Paganism and any other ism’s you can think of, … including Judaism and own our Old Testament’ism which are all very similar in what they set out to do.
… And that is to get their God, … (who ever he is), … to acknowledge and bless them, and even look after them when they die. … How? … By … their own good works and charitable deeds. Yes they are all very similar, they all say that you must do good things, for their God to bless them.
But Christianity is completely different, … no other religion comes close to our New Testament, because no other religion had a saviour who lived on this earth as we do, … and died in our place as the sinners we are, … he died instead of us, but by doing so, he has changed our very outlook on life from all these other religions.
And this is summed up in Philippians 3, verses 8, 9 & 10, and I paraphrase, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered, … and do count them but dung, (dung, you heard right), that I may win Christ, … and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, … but that which is through the faith of Christ, … that I may know him, … and the power of his resurrection”.
Those verses tell us is that all our good works, … all our charitable deeds are counted worthless before the Lord, … that is, … if they are done to impress him, … by following the Law, rather than grace.
So what do we Christians believe in, well Romans 10:9 tells us clearly that “if thou shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, … and shall believe in our heart that God hath raised him from the dead, (we) shall be saved”. … That is it! … That is all we have to do, … to “believe in our Lord Jesus Christ”.
And this is can be very difficult for us to accept, and we ask the question that “while all the other religions are busy doing their good deeds and charitable works, can we sit on our backsides and do nothing, and still be saved … while they will not”?
... Well the answer to that question according to the bible, is YES, … that is all we need to do to be saved, … to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, … however, as you would expect, there is more going on within us than we could possible know because Colossians 1:27 tells us that it is not now us but “Christ in us, the hope of glory”, who is now in control of our lives, because by believing in Christ, something, somewhere in us has changed, … something in us has died, … and something in our very being we wants to live for him, … and not ourselves.