Summary: Once we give ourselves over to Our Lord, we compose new melodies with our members.
Seventh Sunday After Pentecost 2017
From the Epistle of St. Paul to the RomansBeloved: Thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.
20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But then what return did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew:
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. 18 A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.
21 “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
A few weeks ago I was driving in the Bandera Road area and I passed a little building that advertised itself as an “Acts 2:38 church.” I have a good friend who grew up in a church like that so I understood pretty much what they were claiming. On Pentecost Day St. Peter stood up to interpret what the crowd of Jews from all over the world were hearing in their own language. St. Luke’s account says this about the crowd: ‘they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “repent and be baptized.”
So Acts 2:38 seems to be a summary of what God expects of us who have turned our hearts entirely to Him. It’s pretty simple. Many evangelical communities have made it even simpler: say the “sinner’s prayer” and trust in Jesus, our Lord, and you will be saved. Your sins are forgiven and then no matter what you do from then on you’re bound for heaven. Many don’t even believe in the necessity of baptism, or in its sacramental character. This is a good example of squeezing one passage of Scripture so hard that you strangle the Gospel message. That’s the essence of heresy, and it hurts those who preach it, and hurts those who believe it. Just saying that Jesus is your Lord doesn’t make you a follower of Jesus. You actually have to follow Jesus, doing the will of the Father.