What would it be like to grab a brewski with Bishop Lancelot Andrewes? Fr. Michael and Fr. Allen of St. Michael the Archangel Anglican Church Charolette invite you to the table for a drink and to discuss the works of this quintessential Anglican and famous Caroline Divine in order to see what he would have to say about the world in which we live.
Sunday Nov 06, 2022
Sunday Nov 06, 2022
When we are not drinking brews with Andrewes and discussing his sermons, we are often preaching ourselves. Here is Fr. Allen’s sermon from Trinity XXI 2022 celebrating The Feast of All Saints
"Numbered with the Saints"
Preached at St Michael the Archangel Anglican Church in Matthews, NC on November 6, 2022
I don’t know about you, but I grew up singing: “Oh, when the saints go marchin' in, Oh, when the saints go marchin' in, Lord, I want to be in that number When the saints go marchin' in.”
So, who are the Saints, where have the saints who have died gone, and how do we make sure we are in that final number spoken of in our Epistle Reading? According to the New Testament, saints are those who believe in Christ, name Jesus as their Lord, are sanctified, serve as faithful and true witnesses for Jesus on earth, and then dwell with Him in paradise upon their death awaiting the resurrection into the New Heavens and Earth.
Thus, if we want to be numbered with them when we die, we ought to be numbered with them while we live: following their faithful examples, dealingwith the problematic sins that effect our witness in the world, refusing to compromise on the demands which the gospel places upon us just to be socially acceptable, and persevering in faith and good works until the end. If we follow their examples of living in the Lord, we can rest assured we will die in the Lord and never be forsaken of his presence (not in this life, life after death, or in life after life after death).
But why does this matter? Because if a person does not make sure they are running in the direction of the Saints who have gone before, their finish line will not heaven. Those who have chosen the way of the Saints will be welcomed into Paradise, while those who reject their way of life will be sentenced to torment. These are the two destinations awaiting humanity when they, like Fred Sanford say, “This is the big one! I’m coming to see you, Elizabeth”?
At the first death, when our souls abandon the body, those running the race of Saints, will enter the place now called Paradise, (since Christ did not abandon the souls of His O.T. people in Sheol/Hades, but brought them out of Abraham’s Bosom to Himself). Just as Jesus told the thief on the Cross, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk.23:43), so those who die in the Lord will be able to enjoy their Lord’s Presence (although not fully until the resurrection). It is here that Paul longed to be in Philippians 1:21-23, as it is a sublime and blissful experience of refreshment, even though we will still have a sense of incompleteness since our souls will be separated from our bodies, like the martyrs in Revelation 6:9-10.
Now, those who refuse to run the race of the Saints opting instead for the rat-race of this world, they’ll enter the place commonly called Hades, which the Bible reveals as a place of isolation and torment. It is the place of banishment from the Presence of God and the life people were made to live, where unbelievers will await their final judgement. It’ll be like waking up every day on death row with no chance of a stay of execution.
This temporary place of punishment is where the rich man makes his plea from in Luke 16, and where Jesus warns the Pharisees that they are headed because of their greed and love of money. Anyone whose whole life and love is of money and not God, like the rich man, will end up in that place, waiting for a resurrection into the lake of fire.
Now, you say, “What about heaven and hell?” Well, they’re still coming, for they are the final destinations to be experienced bodily after the resurrection. As Jesus said, “Jhn.5:28-29Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out— those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” Or as Daniel put it, “Those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (12:1-3). Thus, we see that for the Saints, the race ends with the resurrection of the body to live and reign with Christ in the New Heavens and Earth, but for those who Ain’t, it ends with the resurrection of the body to live and experience the Second Death in the Lake of Fire.
St. Augustine probably best describes this final stage of life after life after death in The City of God (Bk.13 Ch.2), but especially the part where unbelieving souls are bodily resurrected and abandoned by the God they had abandoned in life:
Nevertheless, with the help of the grace of our redeemer, we [believers] may be enabled to decline, or avoid, that second death. For that death, which means not the separation of soul from the body, but the union of both for eternal punishment is the more grievous death. It is the worst of all evils. There by contrast, men will not be in the situations of before death and after death, but always in death. And for this reason, they will never be living, never dead, but dying for all eternity. In fact, man will never be in death in a more horrible sense than in that state where death itself will be deathless.
So, “Heb.4:16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find [the grace of our Redeemer] to help” us continue running the race that is before us (Heb.12:1) following the Saint’s examples of looking to, accepting, serving, and living in Jesus.
For “The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the father seeketh such to worship him.”
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