Posts Tagged ‘hard heart’

I cannot enter at length into the whole matter, but let me trace the gradual process of hardening of heart which may take place in a measure in a true Christian—but in its full extent

in the mere professor whose religion lacks the inward vital principle. You must understand that the hardening of a tender conscience is a gradual process, something like the covering of a pond with ice on a frosty night. At first you can scarcely see that freezing is going on at all. There are certain signs which a thoroughly practiced eye may be able to detect as prognostics of ice, but the most of us would see nothing.

By and by, there is ice, but it would scarcely support a pin. If you should place a needle upon it ever so gently, it would fall through. In due time you perceive a thin coating which might sustain a pebble and before long a child trips merrily over it and if old Winter holds his court long enough, it may be that a loaded wagon may be driven over the frozen lake, or a whole army may march without fear across the stream. There may be no rapid congelation at any one moment and yet the freezing is complete enough in the end. Apostates and great backsliders do not reach their worst at one bound. The descent to Hell is sometimes a precipice—but far oftener a smooth and gentle slope. It were hard to find out in the worst of men exactly when they were utterly given up to judicial blindness. It is often a long and laborious process by which conscience is completely seared.

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ACT’S OF THE APOSTLES 28: 23-30 (11.16.08)

During our parish retreat last year, while Iain and I were away at the consecration of Mark Lawrence as Bishop of S.C., you came up with the mission statement for our parish.  It reads: “To inspire all people, through the power of the Gospel, to become living members of the Body of Christ.”  It is a powerful statement for many reasons, reasons that we have gone over before and reasons that we will go over again.  But today, I might like to draw your attention to one aspect of the mission statement, that being that when you fashioned it, you did so in such a way as to state that you believe the Gospel accomplishes something and is used in a specific way to do so.

You and I are of course, not the first to believe that our “product” is meant to achieve something.  In fact, much of corporate America goes to great expense and trouble to state clearly what they think their products can and cannot achieve and what is the proper way to use said products.  Listen to the following:

On a plastic plate:  this item does not rust

On the package of a Batman costume:  Cape does not enable user to fly

On a hair color kit:  do not use as an ice cream topping

On a bottle of milk:  After opening, keep upright

On a chainsaw:  Do not try and stop the saw with your hands

On an can of insecticide:  Kills all kinds of insects…Warning:  this product is harmful to bees

As foolish as some of them sound, the above companies have gone to great lengths to state what their product accomplishes and how it is mean to be used.  At Trinity, we have done the same thing.  At Trinity, we believe the number one thing we have to offer the world, the one thing that no one else in the world can offer except the church, is the Gospel.  We believe the Gospel is meant to be proclaimed, principally in words (though deeds bear witness to it) and that it accomplishes something quite specific.  Namely we believe that the Gospel has the power to cause men and women, dead in their sins, to come alive to God and become living members of the Body of Christ.  More recently, we have even attempted to state what we believe a “living member” of the Body of Christ looks like.  We believe when God has transformed someone’s heart through the Gospel, that they will “live, grow, serve, and give.”  That is, they will come alive to God in worship,  grow in the knowledge and love of him, serve the church and the community, and give of themselves towards the work of the Kingdom.  As a church, it is important that we not only consider how this happens, but that we also consider what keeps it from happening.  For the answer to this question, we turn Acts ch. 28 for our final sermon in this series. (more…)