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The Death of Analogy

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Sermon for the twentieth Sunday after Trinity

You probably already know that the first recorded word of Our Lord’s public ministry is, “repent”. Of course we understand that this is really a very positive commandment. We are to be like compass needles. Whenever we are shaken by sin, we spin round and turn back to God. Always we seek realignment to God. This is what repentance is.

But why? Why do we need to repent? Surely, when the time comes, God, in His Almighty Love for us will meet us where we are.

[PAUSE]

Our Lord points to two disasters that have befallen some people from Galilee. Some have reportedly been murdered by Pontius Pilate during their sacrifices. Others have been killed by the falling tower of Siloam. In each case, Our Lord is very clear. These people were no greater sinners than anyone else. However, if we do not repent, we shall be like unto them. There is no mincing of words here. 

Repentance matters.

What does the Lord mean when He says that we will be like those who died under tragic circumstances if we do not repent of our ways? What He is doing is using death as an analogy for what happens. We know that Holy Scripture contains many and varied violent deaths. We can point to those that perish in the flood. We can point to the Egyptians pursuing the Israelites. We can point to Sodom and Gomorrah, to Sisera, Jezebel, Saul, Absalom, those who perish in the captivity of Assyria and Babylon. What we see in each is that their fate is the fate of the unrepentant
Again, the Lord calls up a parable about a fig tree which does not bear fruit and is given a last chance before it is cut down. . God uses the analogy of death in this life to point to the second death, the death that follows the resurrection of all human beings in preparation for the Day of Judgement.

This Second Death sounds rather permanent, doesn’t it?

The Lord Jesus Christ is showing us precisely what He is here to save us from. Our Lord Jesus Christ comes to us, is born as one of us, lives and teaches among us, suffers and dies for us so that we might be saved. The cost to Him is huge so what He must be saving us from must be pretty huge as well. He saves us from Eternal Death – a fate we must accept if we choose to reject God.

How can a Loving Almighty God condemn us to an Eternity of Hell?

Simply put He doesn’t. As St Athanasius says, God became Man so that Man might become a god. St Athanasius is thinking of St John’s words here.

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

 What God wants is for us to partake of His Divine Nature just as He partakes of our Human Nature. If He respects our Human Nature so much that He takes on human free-will as well, then He must value our choices even when they reject Him. Where our treasure is, there our heart will be also.
Our Lord warns us of the sin that shall not be forgiven. If God forgives all who truly repent then this unforgivable sin must arise from a wilful refusal to repent. If it is unforgivable then the sin will always remain and, if the sin will always remain, separation from God is permanent.

[PAUSE]

Christians should fear Hell and we should fear it because we should want to be with God for all Eternity. And, further, we need to share in the urgency of bringing people to Christ so that they do not suffer the same fate. This is why spreading the Gospel is so vital. And the Gospel is very simple. Repent: turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and enter Eternity with God in pure love.

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