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The Rev. William Klock: Sermon for the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity (1 Corinthians 1:4-8; Matthew 2:34-46)

October 30, 2011

From Fr. Bill Klock of Living Word REC in British Columbia, here is a Sermon for the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, which is based on 1 Corinthians 1:4-8 and Matthew 2:34-46.  Fr. Bill, in this message, has a good insight on how we so often forget about God’s grace:

Sometimes we forget that God shows us how to love him and each other, but other times we remember the rules but forget their purpose.  We approach God’s commandments as if we can earn his love by following them.  We forget about grace.

One Sunday as I was preaching I mentioned a fairly obscure passage from the Old Testament.  There happened to be an obscure sin mentioned in that passage and there just happened to be someone listening that day who had committed that particular obscure sin.  I had no idea.  The next day I got a phone call from that person that started out, “Well, I guess I’m going to hell!”  Once they explained what they were upset about I had to ask, “Assuming you one day arrive at the gates of heaven, on what grounds will you appeal to them to open the gates for you?”  In response there was just dead air between us.  I’m pretty sure that this individual had somehow missed the gospel, even after years of being a church member.  They were convinced that they were heaven-bound because they’d kept God’s commandments.  Now they were suddenly confronted with one that they hadn’t even known about and had inadvertently broken.  They thought it was all over.

Brothers and sisters, Jesus reminds us that we are not saved by our works—by keeping God’s law.  None of us can do it.  If we think we can, we’ve got the same problem the Pharisees had.  We are saved by grace.  Jesus kept the law for us and by trusting in his sacrifice on the cross for us we are declared righteous before God.  St. John reminds us that we love God, because he first loved us—loved us when we were his enemies and completely unlovable.  We’re all sinners.  We can’t earn God’s favour no matter how good we are, because it only takes one sin to justify our condemnation.  We keep his commandments because he has lovingly forgiven us and because our desire is to return his love by living in a way that is pleasing to him.

That is a good point: that He loved us when we were His enemies.  One might say that He is consistent when He tells us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44) – because He has already done that for us.

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