Friday 13 May 2016

Pentecost Sunday, the day the Church celebrates the giving of the Holy Spirit to the believers in Jerusalem, which was effectively the birth of the Christian Church.

Following from the reading of today’s Epistle, Peter gave his famous sermon which resulted in many people believing and asking ‘what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘repent and be baptised every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This was the real purpose of baptism, confession of faith, repentance for past sins, and accepting Christ as Saviour; not the situation we have today where people come for baptism without knowing really why, and make promises they have no intention of keeping. I personally do not do baptism services as it upsets me to see the Church being abused. I do however long to attend a service where the preacher gives a sermon in simple terms to explain to those assembled the meaning of what is taking place, and indicating the seriousness of what is said and done.

Three thousand people responded to Peter’s call and we are told they ‘devoted’ themselves to the teaching of the Apostles who were of course taught by our Lord Himself. They were not coerced, they went freely. God has graciously provided these teachings for our learning; they are called the New Testament.

One sentence closes this chapter, ‘and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved’. This tells us that it is the Lord who builds His Church.

In the light of falling attendances in the Churches it may be asked ‘why doesn’t the Lord add to the Church now?’ The answer is that He does, in Africa, South Korea, China (the country with the most Christians) and South America. In those countries the Churches are not dismantling the Bible and are keeping to the teaching of the Apostles, whereas in the West in a lot of places the Bible is being re-interpreted and adapted to satisfy society,
and to avoid criticising lifestyles which are contrary to biblical teaching.

In the absence of any charismatic figure on the national Church scene, each local Church is called upon to so make an impact. Christian Research has just provided the results of a survey which showed people preferred Vicars to preach sermons of biblical exposition of between 20/30 minutes, and to stop trying to be comedians.

We are meant to be people of the Word, not people of the WorLd. One might reverently say there is an L of a difference.

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