Friday 29 April 2016

John 5

This story is about the healing of a man in the pool at Bethesda.
The bible refers to it taking place in Jerusalem at a feast of the Jews, but we do not know which particular feast it was.

Jesus was attending the feast, one in the Jewish calendar which all male Jews were expected to attend in Jerusalem. Near to the sheep market there was a pool around which all kinds of men gathered hoping for a miracle to happen. There were five porches situated around the pool where the weak and infirm would shelter. The name of the pool was Bethesda, which means house of mercy, and it was where desperate people gathered in the hope of being healed by a miraculous cure. There are many Independent chapels with that name today, often also in the Baptist Churches.

It was believed that on occasions an angel would visit and disturb the water and when this happened the first person into the water would be healed This is similar to what happens at the Catholic shrine in Lourdes, where spas are thought to have healing powers and to which many desperate for healing visit hopefully. What actually occurred was not the work of an angel but due to there being an intermittent spring, this happened when a surge from the waters from a hill reservoir caused the spring to rise and fall

Healings may well have taken place just as to-day healings occur at well known places. Some Churches have healing services where dramatic results occur, but often there are psychological explanations; some people can even feel better just by association.
I remember once apologising for the heating boiler not functioning in the Church, and almost immediately some people started shivering, yet until then had never noticed.

We are told of this man who had been ill for 38 years and was unable to stand; this is like someone suffering since 1978. But although there were plenty of others with all kinds of infirmities, when Jesus went there He chose this man. This suggests Jesus had divine knowledge of the man’s condition.

Jesus asked the man, ‘do you want to be healed?’ This may seem a strange question to ask a man who had been ill for so long, but Jesus would not have asked this without cause, He wanted the man to answer. There are people who like to be or feel unwell. We have heard plenty of stories of people who are falsely claiming disability benefits and so cheating the government when in fact they are perfectly able to work; some have been found taking part in sporting activities.

I had a man in one of my congregations who loved to tell how ill he was. One lady said I never ask Mr X how he is in fear he may tell me. The man would walk jauntily down the street until he saw someone he knew and then start limping. A lot of people want to feel ill just to get attention.

Some people just don’t want to make the effort, but this man really did want to be healed, but was always beaten in the rush to get into the water and had given up hope. In such situations people are tempted to give up and feel they must just accept things. Often people suffer from alcohol addiction, which seems to get the better of a lot, they try but the pull is too strong. I have seen some tragic cases of otherwise fine people drinking themselves literally to death. We face many difficulties in life and we just need the desire and determination to overcome them.

Jesus responded to the man by saying ‘get up’. At once the man did so feeling he had better do what Jesus had said, and was told to throw away his bed as he would not need it any more.

Jesus was giving a message so vital to those who feel like giving up, don’t accept failure, and don’t feel you are helpless and need assistance all the time. Some people do expect a lot of attention and everybody to give them help. But care has to be taken in receiving advice also. I had a lady who felt she had healing powers and told an elderly lady who suffered with arthritis badly that she would lay hands on her and pray for healing and medication could be thrown away as she would be healed. The elderly lady did so in great faith, and became quite ill.

John tells that Jesus went on to face the wrath of the Jews because the man who He had healed was seen carrying his mat and the priests told him he should not do so for it was the Sabbath day.

There was nothing in the Old Testament which prohibited a man from carrying his bedroll on the Sabbath, but Jewish tradition forbade a man carrying something from one place to another on that day. Jesus did not enter into a discussion on that point, but pointed out that God and Himself put love and compassion first and did not stop working on the Sabbath, (something our junior doctors now striking should learn from who seem to object to working on the weekend.)

Jesus met the man again the Temple complex a short distance from where the healing took place. He told the man to sin no more, without implying that the cure recently made was the cause of sin. Jews saw suffering as a consequence of sinning.

Jesus faced the wrath of the Jewish authorities for breaking a Sabbath rule, but also because He said God was His Father making himself equal to God. Jesus was saying He was the Son of God not in the sense that we are all sons of God, but that He was the Son of God equal in every way and manner.

Monday 25 April 2016

Sermon for an anniversary service, built on Act2 v36/47 and 2 Timothy 1 v 3/14.

As we sit here this morning, we must be mindful of the many people who have occupied seats here over the past 156 years, and be grateful for their witness which has enabled us to be able to worship today. We celebrate those
who came before us, and sometime did so through the most difficult times. In those halcyon days there were congregations we can only dream about, averaging 160 with 50 children.

As the years have passed, and especially since the late 1960s, Church attendance generally has declined, and is now at an all time low. The Church is seen by a large number of the population as an irrelevance, and the culture of society shows modern man has strayed away from the principle that there is a moral order of the universe. Many people today have adopted a sort of relativistic ethic that right and wrong are relative to their taste; that there is really nothing absolutely right or wrong, it just depends on what the majority of the people are doing. Such philosophy has invaded the whole of modem life.

But there has never been a time when all the population went to Church. Jesus told a parable in which he foresaw only one in four responding, but we would be delighted to attain that many.

When Peter made his famous sermon Christianity was newly born and faced massive opposition from a Jewish culture, yet three thousand people responded in response to his words.

In the 1960s it was a wild decade yet Billy Graham could come to this country from America and thousands flocked to hear him. He told them they were all sinners and unless they changed heir lives they would go to hell, but he also gave them hope. Ministers are scared stiff of mentioning hell these days. We have become paralysed by political correctness.

These two examples suggest that if something positive is offered, something to say to them which strikes at their hearts, people will respond. There are indeed, still Churches today around the country which have large attendances and are offering services which appeal to people.

The Church has not risen to the challenge; in too many instances it has failed to speak out on moral and ethical issues, and has allowed anti Christian legislation to be enacted which does not allow Christians to have an effective voice and exercise the same freedom of conscience and expression granted to other faiths.

It has to be realised and demonstrated that we are different from every other institution and organisation, and offer what no other human body can. Only the Church can lead men and women to God, and we can do this because Jesus Christ made it possible by His death on the Cross, by which alone we can earn eternal salvation and a place in Heaven.

Our primary task is to preach the gospel. If we do not do that there is no purpose for the Church, we just become another social body with a religious flavour.

In Chapter 6 of Acts of the Apostles, the Bible tells how the Apostles decided their priority was the preaching of the gospel, and in order to free them to do that, they appointed others to care for other needs.

We are here to tell about God and Jesus; about His unique birth, miracle works; His sacrificial death on our behalf, and how God resurrected Him as a foretaste of what can happen to us if we accept Jesus as our Saviour.

I think this can be a major problem. I have led people to Church having met them through a funeral, only to find when they attended they had to listen to the preacher of the day, who had nothing of any spiritual value, and I have thought to myself ‘that is the last we will see of them’ and it was so. We allow people to bring children to baptism freely and fail to take the opportunity at the service what baptism is all about.

For instance, I am here this week with a conservative, evangelical message, but next week or soon after, someone with a liberal approach may be here, a situation which arises in numerous Churches and understandably causes confusion in people’s minds as to who is right.

The once great Methodist Church was built on strong Biblical foundation. The greatest revival of Christianity in this country came during the ministry of John/Charles Wesley If they were alive today they would have much to say at the way the Church has failed to proclaim the message they left, that salvation was through Christ alone, the value of a person’s life was measured by their faith; by the manner in which they lived their lives, and the doctrine of heaven and hell.

Obviously if we are faithful to Scripture we are going to upset many people, not out of a desire to do so, but simply because we will strike at their conscience. The Bible clearly states all people, even those who have never heard the gospel, have a sense of right and wrong. We have to tell of the consequences for them when this life is over.

If you were walking down a road and you saw a house on fire and also saw someone in side trapped, you wouldn’t just wave to them, you would seek to save them; so we have a Christian duty to try and save them spiritually.

The Bible states, ‘for God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power.’ We should not be timid and reluctant to speak out; we have the greatest power in the world, the power of God.

If anyone is afraid of speaking about the gospel it can only be because they are ashamed to do so. The Bible tells us not to be ashamed for we have nothing to be ashamed of, we are speaking on behalf of God

You may have had an experience in work in places when you feel ashamed that you are a Christian. You are afraid people will find out; you tend to keep it quiet and not say much about it in case they get unpleasant about it

The early church was a good model of what the church should be. As we compare ourselves today to that early church, we need to ask ourselves if we are an accurate representation of the kind of church that God would have us be. They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles, who in turn had been taught by our Lord Himself. So what they heard would have been Jesus’ earthly teaching plus what He taught in His 40 days of resurrection appearances. The wonderful thing is God has graciously made possible for us to have that same teaching; He has left us with copies of those Bible classes, it is called the New Testament.

We are told they devoted themselves; they didn’t need persuasion or coercion, they were eager to learn. They were filled with awe, and their praise and worship was so inspiring others who saw and heard joined. I wonder how many of our congregations could say they were filled with awe and felt inspired. Too often in some cases it has been ‘we have to offer something’, without much further thought, and in others instances, ‘we have always done it this way’, which just shows a lack of commitment.

There is a very significant sentence at the end of the passage; and the Lord added to their number day by day. Every day, there would be new converts to the faith. That should not really be surprising. The apostles were getting the gospel of Jesus Christ out to the people around them by their teaching.

In addition, unbelievers were seeing the grace of God being displayed in the lives of the believers and were impressed with what was happening and were attracted. God was using these things to draw people to himself and the church grew. This tells us that it is God who builds up a Church, for He alone can move a person’s heart to repentance and faith. Jesus said on one occasion, ‘No man can come unto me except my Father draw him’. God is drawing people to himself all over the world.

It is in God’s plan that His Church will grow. In that first Church it was growing all the time; from that little band of men, the Christian gospel spread across the world.

The Lord is still adding to His Church, massively so in Africa, South Korea, China and South America. He cannot do so in Britain and other Western nations whilst we are not teaching, and certainly not practising, the teaching of the Apostles. These men were speaking, in the name of and on behalf, of the Lord Himself who told them what to say. If we choose to teach and preach in a manner to align ourselves with society’s culture and ways rather than with what God has lain down, we cannot expect God to bless our ministry.

Some people are false Christians. making out they are more devout than they really are. They act like Christians, going to Church and taking part in the services, but they do not then live out the faith a true Christian would. If we want to be men and women of God, we are to follow the teaching God has provided for us. This clearly set out in the Bible and readily available for all to follow. . We should be people of the Word, not people of the world. (cynics may say there is an L of a difference)

Writing to Timothy, Paul commanded him to preach the word, and by the word he meant the Scriptures, which is still the primary task for all preachers. He gave a clear instruction for all Christian pastors and teachers that they were commissioned to teach the truth and to refute error. He also emphasised that preachers did so in the presence of God and Jesus Christ, meaning that they will be held to account for the way they perform that task.

He also warned that a time would come when people would not want to hear sound doctrine, by which he meant the teaching given by the Apostles. There are people, and indeed within ministry, who are living in ways which directly contravene Scripture so do not want to hear or even consider what may strike at their conscience, accepting that they do have one. Sadly, such false teachers abound who are prepared to amend the Bible to accommodate such thinking.

It may be asked what s false teaching? When you hear a sermon or talk and you are unaware of the speaker’s background it is often helpful to check and see if what has been said can be verified from the Bible’ if not, then it is likely to be false teaching.

When people go to Church they have a right to expect the preacher will give them a simple and honest interpretation of Scripture. We go to Church to worship God, take part in fellowship with fellow Christians as we hear the Word read, and then faithfully expounded.

In the absence of any charismatic person of stature on the national Church scene, each local Church needs to promote its own agenda of evangelism. I wish this Church of yours every blessing and may the Lord richly award you for years to come and add to your numbers.

I want to close with words of John Wesley who once stated “I want to know one thing, the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. Give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God!

Friday 22 April 2016

I sense a distinctly hostile attitude to the United States at present here in England, and as one who has always liked America and its people I am sorry, but nevertheless have to share the feeling due to the visit of who might reasonably be considered to be the worst President America has.

This an assessment strongly felt in Israel where they openly state they have had less support from Obama than any other President. America has also under his leadership surrendered its influence generally, whereas President Putin can claim to have influenced the civil war in Syria and led to a cease fire.

He has come to this country to tell us how we should vote to stay in the European Union when few trust his sincerity, for we think he is more interested in considering American interests if we vote to leave, and is virtually making threats if we do.

Let us remember we are required to pay hundreds of millions of pounds to stay in the Union and have little control in the ruling of our own country. Obama ought to remember 1775 when America objected to paying a tax and did so by causing a war. We do not intend any violence.

American diplomats I understand refuse to pay the legal congestion charge for driving into our capital city, a sum of £9 million pounds having been avoided to date. There is little chance of the U.S.A joining any union, as has been stated much in this country lately, that no country is more protective of its own sovereignty than the USA.

We keep hearing about the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. What relationship? This is the President who removed the gift of a bust of our great war hero Winston Churchill from the Oval Office as one of his fist tasks. Who also told France they were America’s special friend. When we see a Republican President we might resume the (special?) relationship.

Boris Johnson made the point that taking notice of American advice regarding foreign policy has not been too successful in the past, which encouraged us to join in an illegal war in Iraq which has spawned ISIS, and led to terror attacks over Europe; encouraged Cameron (admittedly with little persuasion necessary) to go gung-ho into Libya and create a disaster in that country.

This is a President who has been a distinct failure in his own country, unable to make his mind up on many important issues; refusing to acknowledge the genocide in Syria and Iraq or to condemn the killers as terrorists.

He will be remembered principally for introducing same sex marriage, forcing employers to provide contraception at their expense, denying schools funding if they don’t allow transgender children to use the bathrooms of their choice, and forcing lovely decent people to give up their businesses for exercising their rights under the Constitution to be able to express their religious beliefs.

On the economic front his country now owes trillions of dollars, he has forced coal mines to close losing valuable sources of energy, and has vetoed a pipeline from Canada which would have assisted America to be independent of other foreign oil supply.

Perhaps one can gain some idea of this man’s ability to advise when he said recently the greatest threat to the planet is
climate change. We have Christians being barbarously killed in the Middle East, savage attacks on European premises, and the threat of terrorists getting hold of a nuclear device; and the world’s spokesman thinks climate change is the major threat. You just couldn’t make it up.

May God bless America, and especially those wonderful evangelical churches.

Friday 8 April 2016

A few weeks ago Donald Trump asked America, ‘what the hell is going on?’ We might similarly ask David Cameron’s Britain the same question.

I recently told the story of a magistrate who was sacked from the bench for stating what 90% (plus) of the population think, that a child is best raised with a mother and father rather than two parents of the same sex. That dismissal was followed by the NHS removing from his post as a non executive director of a Trust.

This week we have seen a highly qualified NHS therapist lose an appeal against a discipline notice issued after a Muslim colleague betrayed her by complaining that the therapist had prayed with her and given her a Christian book. This was in spite of the fact that the complainant had sought advice and compassion and agreed to the prayer.

In another abomination this week a student has had his future vocation prospects destroyed. The student posted a comment on the social media site, which many students use to express their thoughts, his belief that the American registrar who refused to issue certificates for same sex marriage had acted rightly. It had no business with his University at Sheffield, who do not seem to monitor other comments with such assiduity, but nevertheless have forced him to abandon his studies so destroying the career he had hoped for as a social worker. (Story below)

We are for ever hearing how careers should be open with greater opportunities for black people; we now know that is providing they do not offend with opinions against Cameron’s cherished same sex marriage act.

There are numerous other cases for which there is little purpose in recording. I am sure all will get the way things are going here.

We can see a little daylight at present. Cameron lied when he said he would never propose same sex marriage, and did.. He lied when he said he would raise the amount a person would be eligible to keep before being charged for residential care; and has not. He lied when he said the European referendum would be held neutrally and with dignity, yet has used nearly ten million pounds on propaganda for his own campaign by sending out letters to EVERY household in the United Kingdom to support remaining with the Union. He recently was untruthful when he said he had never benefited from money invested in Panama, but had to admit this was not so.

He tried to play being God when he redefined marriage. He is about to find out that was not a wise move.

Details of student suspended from Course

Felix Ngole, who was expelled from a university social work course after expressing support for biblical teaching on marriage on his own Facebook page, is to seek further legal action after losing his appeal against the decision.

The decision to expel him means he will no longer be able to continue his studies at the University of Sheffield, and pursue his desired vocation as a social worker

Felix, a second year Masters student, decided to appeal after he was told that, by posting his comments on Facebook, the Committee believed that he "may have caused offence to some individuals" and had "transgressed boundaries which are not deemed appropriate for someone entering the Social Work profession."

His action would have an effect on his "ability to carry out a role as a Social Worker," the Committee said.

Felix is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre as he considers his next steps

Felix has now been told by the Appeals Office that submitting the posts in question on social media was "inappropriate", in light of the professional conduct outlined in the Health and Care Professions Councils (HCPC).

The letter from the Appeals Office then claimed that Mr Ngole had not "offered any insight or reflection" on the "potential impact" of his postings, or on how the social work profession may be perceived by the public, based on what he had posted.

For this reason, the Appeals Committee ruled that his expulsion was "proportionate

Commenting on the university's decision, Felix said:

"Like every other student at university I use social media to communicate and express personal views. In my Facebook posts in question, I simply expressed support for the biblical view of marriage and sexuality. However, I was reported to the university for these views and they unilaterally decided to end my course. In so doing, they ended my training for my chosen vocation in life.

"I shall be seeking further legal action as my case raises all sorts of legal questions as to whether Christians can any longer hold traditional biblical and moral beliefs and still enter mainstream professions such as social work, medicine, teaching and law in this country."

Felix made the comments in question last September on his personal Facebook page, in connection with the case of Kim Davis, the marriage clerk from the US state of Kentucky, who expressed a conscientious objection to issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples.

Felix expressed support for Kim Davies' freedom and in the course of the discussion explained biblical teaching on sexual ethics.

Nearly two months later, he received an email from a university official telling him that his comments were being investigated and summoning him to a meeting the following Monday.

Following further meetings, he was told that the Faculty of Social Sciences Fitness to Practise Committee had ruled that he should be removed from the course

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

"The university's decision reflects a worrying trend throughout Higher Education institutions, which is to censor any view that may be deemed 'offensive'.

"Mr Ngole has worked with those who identify as homosexual in the past and has always treated them with respect, never discriminating against them. There is no evidence that Felix's biblical views would have negatively impacted his work

We have become used to registrars, nurses, teachers, magistrates and counsellors being disciplined in their jobs for acting according to conscience, but this is the very first time a Christian student has been stopped even before he enters his chosen vocation to hep others – simply for holding traditional Christians views on marriage and sexuality.

"This case raises fundamental issues which is why taking further action is vital."

Sunday 3 April 2016

1 Corinthians 1 v18/25.
This morning I want to speak about the Cross, and have chosen a passage from Paul’s 1st Letter to the Church at Corinth.

Paul wrote to give advice and admonishment to the people there because of the way they were acting. He is showing us in this passage how the Cross is so important for us as Christians and how it is involved in human affairs and thinking.

Each religious faith has its own symbol. Muslims have the crescent moon; the Jews have the Star of David, but for Christians we have the Cross.

Some Churches have a Cross outside and most also display the Cross inside. It is embossed upon our Bibles and prayer books and ladies particularly wear a gold cross around their necks to declare their faith.

Paul said he gloried in the Cross. He said, we preach Christ crucified, and when writing to the Galatian Church Paul stated, ‘God forbid that I should boast about anything except the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’, to indicate how much he prioritised the Cross.

He could have boasted about his own intellect, his mastery of languages; he could have boasted about the unique birth of Christ or the miracles performed, even the resurrection, but he didn‘t, only the Cross. The Cross has been the standard for God’s people and the Church, Paul’s principal message.

The Church at Corinth was having problems which caused Paul to write to them. Corinth was a cosmopolitan city with which has been described as the Soho of its day. It was a trading centre and there was much wealth and a style of living which did not match up to Christian standards. The Church, which had started with much power, was allowing some of the culture to invade the Church, and some members were influenced by the rhetoric of some preachers who were deviating from gospel; this caused division and dissension within the Church.

We have a similar situation here where there are men/women, occupying the most prominent position in the Church, openly accepting and even encouraging Christians to adopt the morality of society, despite the fact that the Bible expressly condemns doing so.

Paul begins this passage by saying Christ sent him to preach the gospel, not with profound words and high sounding ideas, for there is mighty power in the simple message of the Cross of Christ. I think the Church is often missing the fact that our primary function is also to preach the gospel, whereas it is sometimes that a more social message is preferred.

The Bible places high importance on the preaching ministry. In Acts we read how the Apostles stressed that their duty was to spend time preaching and teaching, leaving other social duties to lay people. The Bible asks, how can people believe in the gospel if no one is preaching to them?’

It is not often that a sermon on the Cross is heard in Churches today, if at all; I cannot remember when I last heard one. Indeed, a lot of sermons have only a tenuous reference to the gospel message.

Paul begins in Verse 18 by saying,

For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God

Paul always held there are two distinct points of view, two black or white fundamental absolutes that can never be reconciled because they produce different responses to the gospel.

We all have a choice to make for our future when this life is over. Many people don’t want to think about that and dismiss it from their minds. Many more believe there is no need to worry, as long as one leads a ‘good’ life we are all going to heaven. I have taken hundreds of funerals over the years and never found anyone in doubt that the deceased has gone to heaven.

If you accept the Cross and its meaning, you are accepting you are making a judgement on whether you believe in truth or not. The Cross is the pivotal point of Christianity.

If you tell people that all their efforts and achievements will not put them right with God, and the only way is to believe the death of Christ on the Cross is the means by which they are saved, they would say you are being ridiculous. The Cross carries the message that we can do nothing to earn our salvation.

The Cross strikes at the heart of human pride. Just as the Jews could never accept that a man hanging on a Cross could save the world, so today people mock the idea. Those who are blind to the truth of the gospel are perishing, and are eternally lost. To them however, it is absurd, and they refuse to believe the Biblical teaching that states to achieve eternal salvation you have to believe that a man died on a Cross 2000 years ago, in a little country on the far side of the world, and did so that our sins may be forgiven.

Why take a risk on your eternal future? If you were due to fly to America and as you were boarding the plane you were told there was a 1% chance the plane would not make it across the Atlantic, would you still fly?

The other reaction is that the Cross is the power of God to those of us who have accepted Christ’s death on the Cross as our means of salvation.

Paul said he understood how foolish it sounds to those who are lost when they heard that Jesus died to save them, but God had said He would destroy all human plans of salvation no matter how wise they seem to be to men, even the most brilliant of them. He said ‘ you come to me my way, or you do not come at all’.

If you wear a Cross you should ask yourself, what does it mean to me? Most people just see it as an item of jewellery, such an idea would have been horrifying bearing in mind the tortuous death it carried; it would belike wearing a model of the gallows around the neck

Paul asks where is the wise man, where is the scholar, where is the philosopher of this age has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world

Paul is speaking to those in the Church who claimed to be wise and proud of their wisdom, which they were using to divide the Church and to promote themselves by changing the message of the Cross to make it more acceptable. Paul is telling them it is worthless in the sight of God and will only destroy the Church.

We have a situation in which debating is carried on in University and Theological Colleges on the veracity of Scripture, with it being analysed and taken apart. Then they go out write books, reach high Office in the Church and confuse everyone. Does this not resonance with those in today’s Church who seek to promote their own agenda, irrespective of the damage they cause to the Church.
When you become a Christian you should be free from factions, disagreements and dissensions.

Paul said the Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look to wise.
This was a stumbling block which could not be overcome by Jews or Gentiles, but to those who do believe it is a message of power.

The Jews demanded that what Paul was teaching should be proved by some miraculous sign. Jews could not ever accept that the Messiah would be crucified; it was totally contradictory to their belief. The Greeks placed so much influence on human wisdom and intellectual ability to be the means of salvation.

God chose a way which ordinary people could understand. Abraham Lincoln once state God must have loved ordinary people because He made so many of them. Paul gave them an ordinary and simple message, believe in Jesus Christ who gave His life to be crucified on the Cross and you will have eternal life. If we had to be very wise and academic, millions of people would never have come to know the Lord.

The gospel message is the opposite of worldly wisdom and is hard for some to believe but we do believe. But there are still people who want to see some proof for what we preach. The Bible states, by grace you shall be saved through faith’. If you have to see signs or other proof to believe, you don’t need faith. True faith means believing in what you cannot see.

God said, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate’.

The message of the world sees us as self-sufficient beings; there is no need of God. We have the ability to think and reason which will prove sufficient to eventually solve all of our problems. Obviously God doesn’t think so much of it.

Just where has all the wisdom of the so-called wise brought us? How well have we done in solving the world’s problems? Have we eradicated poverty? Has all our research and expertise in the fields of science and medicine rid our world of disease? Have we found a cure for cancer? There is more suffering now than history records.

With all the highly educated professional educators, how can we still have ignorant people wandering our streets, graduating from our schools and colleges not knowing basic maths or English?

Look at the enormous amount of hatred in the world with many of the Arab countries wanting to wipe Israel off the face of the map; the barbarity of Islamic militants. Paradoxically hatred has been introduced into our society by legislation. The (inequitable) Equality and Diversity Bill has caused considerable distress. Consider the hate mail and persecution experienced Christians who do not wish to surrender their beliefs to society’s morality. The unfortunate reality is that for all our so-called sophistication, we have not been able to solve the basic problems of society–– problems that have been around since the beginning. Certainly, we have been able to see great advances technologically. We have great new gadgets. But on the really important issues of life, we don’t even have temporary solutions.

But to those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

The Cross upon which Jesus died not only was a place where he bore the sins of humanity and paid the penalty for those sins, it is also a way for our lives by his power. It is saying that God became weak in order to save us. It says that when we surrender our lives we truly find them. It is the very power of God, concealed from the so-called wise and sophisticated and revealed to those who come as a child, in simple faith and trust.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength

Today the cross of Christ is still a cause of offence. The message of the cross of Christ is still foolishness to those who are perishing. To them the cross is the weakest link. In the Cross, we see the power of God displayed. God was powerful enough to become weak. And it will take the power of God in our lives to humble ourselves in complete surrender to him. The good news is that God has given us his power. It is now the duty and responsibility of the Church to boldly proclaim this.

There is one underlying message running right through this passage. ‘There is only one way to heaven and that is through Jesus Christ’. God gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. We do not earn our right to heaven by all the good things we do, being saved is a gift from God, if we could earn it would not be free. God accepts us when we believe in Christ.

May the Cross always remind you of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made for the salvation that can be yours.