Speaking in Sacrament

I am speaking in church tomorrow, and thought I would share the words I’ve prepared with the MySpace community. I’m speaking about grace, faith, and works. I do not pretend that my words are doctrinally sound, only that they reflect my understanding of my gospel. The following is a general outline of my words tomorrow in church:

Brothers and sisters, I don’t own very many books and I have a hard time forcing myself to make time to read. If you were to scan my bookshelves at my apartment you would find more comic books than anything else. On my shelves you would find mostly text books from my undergraduate education: Soil Mechanics, Fluid Mechanics, various math text books, Hydrology, Mechanics of Materials…. Not exactly light reading. You’d also find a lot of books that you might THINK are text books – but they’re not… they’re just the heavy sort of books that tend to catch my interest. transportation econometrics, travel demand theory, a few books about urban design, urban transportation policy, a little bit about sprawl and a few books debating the feasibility of energy independence. What you won’t find very much of on my bookshelf, is fiction. I’ve got a small J.D. Salinger collection that I enjoy very much, and a little Stephen Crane, but that’s about it. One thing you will NOT find on my bookshelf is poetry. I have never been much of a poetry reader. When I hear the word “poetry,” I think of E.E. Cummings. For those of you who aren’t familiar with e.e. cummings, he sometimes used a “typographically exuberant style, with words, parts of words, or punctuation symbols scattered across the page, often making little sense until read aloud, at which point the meaning and emotion become clear.” ….well, if you’re me…. No matter how many times you read it aloud, the meaning and emotion do NOT become clear.Ooooo…. It makes me angry….My sister, currently receiving an Ph. D. in english literature, would describe me as “one of those people that just doesn’t get it.” She’s right. I don’t get it. I know I’m not the only one in here that doesn’t get it. I only bring this up to let you know that in general, I am not a fan of poetry.But I do like some poetry….. I can appreciate a little Robert Frost now and then, and Stephen Crane has also written a few short poems I enjoy. And Shell Silverstein was one of my favorites growing up. But my all-time favorite book of poetry, brothers and sisters, is the King James version of the New Testament.I hope I don’t offend anyone here by referring to it as a book of poetry. It is not my intent to imply that the New Testament is anything less than divine scripture received from God, delivered to us His children by his servants the prophets. I do not intend to diminish the sacred nature of this text, nor do I intend to imply that I question the truthfulness or accuracy of this holy work. The New Testament is as sacred a text as can be found on the Earth and contains a truthful account of the life of our Savior Jesus Christ.…but that’s not why I like it. Maybe it SHOULD be why I like it… but it’s not. I love the New Testament because to me, the words flow like poetry. The language in the New testament is absolutely beautiful, and to me, is poetry. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Only the most beautiful words, the most extraordinary phrasing, the most artful expressions are sufficient to convey the most wonderful message the world has ever heard – the gospel of Jesus Christ. Like most poetry, I often don’t understand its meaning. I can’t always be certain of what the author intended the words to mean. But I can be certain of what the words mean to me each time I read them. – and this is what I intend to share with you today.I am going to read to you the words of the Apostle Paul, writing to the EphesiansEPHESIANS 1:2-3Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a simple sentence, yet so meaningful. The opening lines of his letter – and the first thing he does, is reminds the Ephesians of the wonderful blessing of the lord that is Grace. Throughout his epistle, he expounds further regarding Grace.EPHESIANS 2:8-108. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not that of yourselves: it is the gift of God:9. Not of works, lest any man should boast.10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.The Grace of God is a gift, given to us by God. It is a gift we don’t deserve. It is a gift we have not earned. “By grace are ye saved.” There is no other way to obtain salvation than through the grace of the Lord. All are of the dust, and all turn to dust (Eccl. 3:20). Nothing we can do is sufficient to replace the gift of grace. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).Brothers and sisters, we do not DESERVE grace. God does not OWE it to us, we do not EARN it. THIS is why we worship God. We don’t worship him for giving us what we have rightfully earned. We worship God for giving us something we don’t deserve.But grace alone does not save us….Grace comes to us through faith. We must have faith to receive God’s gracious gift of salvation. God expects us to trust in, and act on, his words. God bestows grace on those who faithfully obey his commandments.Paul states that salvation cannot be received through works, or else we would be tempted to boast of our good works. Belief, repentance, and baptism are all works of faith, yet they should not result in boasting. They are necessary works of faith that allow us to receive the grace of God. We are not saved by “faith only,” but faith that works.Next, Paul states that we are God’s workmanship. The Greek word for “workmanship” is POIEMA, from which we get our word “poem.” It means “a work of art, a master piece.” How appropriate that we are God’s Poetry? We are his work of art… his masterpiece. We receive God’s grace through our faith and become His work of art. In thanks, we are to do His good works. God has saved us to serve others. Matthew 5:16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.
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