At this moment we are here on the planet earth in the western hemisphere, living among friends in a relatively modest building making ready to participate in something called the Memorial Service. We meet here where Indians may have camped on the banks of the Lafayette. Consider this moment a minute dot on your lifeline–a tiny instant, as measured by the earth’s clocks, in the spinning out of your life. Just another life. Billions have gone before; billions exist now, and billions will follow. Like all other lifelines, it has a dot at the beginning, and a dot at the end, marking your birth and death. Like all other humans–Hitler and Schweitzer, Lincoln, Washington, Napoleon, Charlemagne, Augustine, Josephus, Plato, Pharoah, Aknaton–all of them–there was a beginning and an end. |
Does this moment have any meaning? Or is it just another tick on the space clock–which doesn’t exist because there is no time. Well, our presence here today and with regularity indicates that it does have meaning for us. But does it have real meaning? Some would say it doesn’t; some that it may have, others that it is just the same as all ‘Christian’ gatherings wherever they may be. After all, what difference does it make what you believe so long as you call yourself a Christian? What difference does it make as long as you are a good person? However, it is not strange that this meeting has more importance than so many others that are superficially similar. It is the ultimate in sophistry to say that it doesn’t matter what a Christian believes. When you call yourself a Christian you subscribe to a viewpoint–a faith, if you will, a faith in the one true gospel. It’s entirely reasonable to say there’s one true gospel and that it’s important to believe in it. Life is like that. The Christian bases his belief in the Bible. And the Bible stands for the proposition that there is only one true gospel. Thus we read in Ephesians 4. 4, 5: There is one body, and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism. We see a narrowness involved when we read Paul’s words to Timothy( 2Tim 4. 2 - 4) , Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rubuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine, for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. Paul is even more pointed when he writes to the church at Galatia (1. 6 - 8; 11, 12):
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him, that called you
into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another;
but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven , preach any other gospel unto you,
than that which we have preached, let him be accursed. . .
I certify that the gospel that was preached of me is not after man.
For I neither received it of man, neither taught it,
but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Let me emphasize that there is nothing wrong in being certain that what you believe is important–of supreme value. If a true Christian didn’t think he had faith in what he sees as the true gospel, he would stay home. True believers make up the body of Christ, where each part compliments and cooperates with the other. So how should believers behave towards one another? By being loving, loyal, longsuffering brethren; charitable, and not condescending. But let’s be realistic. We don’t always love each other. Often we’re anything but charitable–ready to believe the worst. Despite biblical injunction we enjoy gossiping and backbiting; I know, because I’ve done it with you–and passed it on. Let’s not fool ourselves. There is a lack of unity because of poor behavior of the parts which inevitably lead to discord and disharmony in the church. In spite of the admonition that we be particularly mindful of those of like precious faith, ultimately each of us must bear his own burden. There’s no such thing as group salvation.
This is getting pretty serious. According to the Bible everyone who partakes of the Memorial emblems ought to be able to think of himself in any one of a number of ways: one of a chosen generation-- citizen of an holy nation-- a light in the world-- salt of the earth–pure in heart–one who hungers after righteousness–soldier of Christ–a purchased person–covered by the blood of the everlasting covenant–one of the saints–a new creature–one whose name is written in heaven. You will be called these things if you have been called–and you’ve been called, make no mistake about it, when you received the gospel. Questions:
Do you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you were called?
Does your trumpet make an uncertain sound?
Have you hidden your light under a bushel?
Have you–having put your hand to the plow, stopped plowing?
Paul invites you to examine yourself in 2Cor 13. 5 -
Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith,
Prove your own selves.
Know you not your own selves,
How that Jesus Christ is in you
Except ye be reprobates?
In a sense, we’ll all stumble into the kingdom. We need grace, but there is scriptural testimony that we must keep the faith, else we receive the grace of God in vain. Sometimes we lose sight of our need for His grace because of our pride and our passions–earthly gods.
What are you doing this afternoon? Will you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called? I don’t intend to ruin your afternoon. I myself intend to take a nap. But there is something you can do today after we leave here, that indicates that you know what manner of man or woman you ought to be. You can take some time out for quiet reflection. Do a kind word or deed. Say a silent prayer of thanks or praise–do these things each day and every tomorrow. Because there’s no vacation from being a Christian.