By Rev. James A. Splitt
Sermon November 1, 1998
Luke 6:20-31 Ephesians 1:11-232
In order to pass Presbyterian 101, you have to know the Presbyterian Motto.
It is the one and only requirement to pass. The Presbyterian Motto is the sum of all of what Presbyterians need to know about being a good Presbyterian. Does anyone know the Presbyterian Motto? For a hint, check I Corinthians 14:40.
It is: "Presbyterians do it decently and in order." We may be inspired by the Bible, but we are governed by the Presbyterian bible, known as the BOOK OF ORDER. In the book of Genesis we learn the world was without form, there was no order in the universe. Instead it was chaos. God took the chaos and created order. The remarkable characteristic of creation is its orderliness. God's intention is order not chaos, order not confusion, order not disorganization. It is clearly Paul's statement in I Corinthians that reminds us that our worship is vital to the life of every individual and to the whole church. Our worship should be conducted in an orderly way so we can worship, be taught, and be prepared to serve God in such a way that we honor and respect the order of God's creation. We are charged with the responsibility of doing things decently and in order rather than in chaos and confusion. So we Presbyterians, by virtue of our sacred motto, are to keep God's creation decent and in order.
I raise this point to make a point about the text from Luke and from Ephesians. It is helpful to remember that God does not want a creation of chaos and confusion. God's intention is that order is the basis for the unity of creation. All of creation is held in balance, a delicate balance for which every creature, every rock and mineral, every droplet of water and every chemical in the atmosphere is intertwined with God's grace and love. We are blessed when we honor this creation, we are cursed when we disregard God's order of things and we bring about chaos in our lives or in the lives of others.
The work of Satan is chaos. Satan wants us to be cursed. Satan wants us to be confused and disorganized. Satan does not want us to receive the inheritance of Christ. God's purpose is to offer salvation to the world, just as God planned to do from the beginning of time. God is the sovereign creator. Satan is the destroyer. God purpose is to give us Jesus Christ so that by believing in him we receive the inheritance of Salvation. Satan does not want us to get than inheritance and will do whatever Satan can to get our lives all messed up. Satan will try to get us to become indecent and out of order.
God has chosen us to receive salvation. Paul is real clear about the way we are to live in order .... and not in chaos. In order to receive our inheritance of salvation, Paul prays that God will give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation as we come to know Christ. Satan wants to keep us ignorant and blind to the truth. Satan rejoices when we find excuses not to worship. Satan rejoices when we don't read the Bible, laughing at us when we say "we don't have time, or it's too hard to understand." Paul prays for God to give us the wisdom so that we embrace God's word with power and understanding. Satan is crushed every time we pick up the Bible and find inspiration and revelation.
We are chosen to receive salvation, it is in God's plan. It is ordered! Our inheritance through Christ is salvation. But Satan wants to destroy that inheritance and take it from us.
Paul uses an expression (vs.18) ... "having the eyes of your hearts enlightened" we will know the hope to which we are called. Bob Denny spoke to us at our Stewardship dinner and challenged us to get passionate about our faith and mission. We talk about this church being a home for your heart. The imagery of having the eyes of our hearts enlightened suggests to me that we turn on the porch light to our spiritual lives. Let others know the light is burning in our home! That we have a clear vision of salvation in our lives. If we don't have that hope than we are living in darkness and Satan is warming up the coals of despair in our life.
Paul clearly shows us that our inheritance is a matter of redemption. (ref. vs. 14). Here we have one of the most clear and concise statements about the work of the Holy Spirit found in the Bible. In Christ, we having heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation, and now believing in Jesus Christ, we are marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of God's glory (vs. 13-14). We hear, therefore we believe, and by believing we are anointed, marked by the Holy Spirit, to receive our inheritance. Satan is really upset once we start believing and will do whatever Satan can to get us confused so that we not sure about our faith. Whenever we lose that passion of our faith, the mark of the holy spirit begins to fade.
Finally, Paul goes on to affirm the authority and sovereignty of God in the personhood of Jesus Christ. All glory and praise is celebrated in the Christ as the head of the church. The most decent and orderly thing we can do is give ourselves totally and completely to the power and will of God. When we do that Satan is totally defeated and no longer has any power or claim to us.
In your bulletin the opening meditation is from Hebrews 12:1. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. Look on the back of your bulletin and you will find a necrology of members and friends of our church in celebration of All Saint's Day. We are surrounded by the soul of each one of these people who witnesses to us the divine order of God's creation and the promise of salvation. We are encouraged to lay aside the weight of sin and persevere in the race set before us. We can say no to Satan and yes to Jesus Christ.
The hope before us and the promise of being chosen as Christ's inheritance if celebrated in the sacrament of Holy Communion. Let the eyes of your heart be enlightened as the Christ's own disciples were when he was revealed to them in the upper room in the breaking of bread. Amen.