Sunday 20 November 2016

Last Sunday I led a service of Remembrance at which we thought of the brave young men and women who served in the Armed Forces in two world wars and localised wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We thought of lives lost and terrible injuries for life that were incurred, but also of the ideals and principles for which those men and women fought for. I often wonder what they would have said if they could see the state of the country today. There seems so little comparison. Would they think their sacrifice was worthwhile?

This morning I want to draw your attention to a verse from the Old Testament, ‘when the foundations are being destroyed what can the righteous do?’ What then are the ‘foundations? ’

The foundations that are spoken of are the foundations that support a society and prevent it from crumbling, the social, moral, ethical, political and religious foundations. Without much effort we can see those foundations are slowly falling apart, there is a general breakdown in society

Christianity has been the faith of this country for over 1500 years, and has brought and kept this nation as one, Christianity is being wrecked and the ensuing collapse of Christian values has led to an unstable society in which family life is being destroyed, and a moral and spiritual vacuum has been created. Now Christianity is being fazed out of public life by politically motivated people, ideologues in the government and civil service who betray the culture which nurtured them.
Politically, our governments once exercised their role with Christian values in mind, but recent successive governments have shown little, if any, concern for Christian standards.

Legislation has been introduced which offends and contradicts Christian teaching and belief. In addition, we have restrictions placed on the expression of our beliefs, something which does not happen in relation to other faiths. Until recently we had a Prime Minister, who by his intransigence made freedom of religious expression a legal offence, with the paradox that you can incur a greater penalty for quoting the Bible to support your belief than you may for committing burglary or physical assault. You may be suspended from employment for wearing a Cross, but not a hijab.

The moral boundaries have been swept away to such an extent that there are now no absolutes, all is relative and you just do your own thing and make up your own standards. This is being taught in our schools and universities, and in intellectual circles the Bible is seen as some form of hate literature. People believe they can do without God.

In our politically correct society it seems the power of evil is so great that decent people are afraid, even in danger, if they voice criticism. They are accused of bigotry and all kinds of phobia Dark clouds are descending on our culture. We all know this to be true yet we feel powerless to stop the slide into the abyss. Isolation from it all is impossible. We can’t escape from it anywhere.

Our children and grandchildren are growing up in a world so very different from the previous generations. They will never know it was once forbidden to use a four lettered explicit word on radio/television; ; that marriage was only between a man and woman, and only a woman would be called a wife, they will never know the word ‘gay’ meant an expression of healthy happiness. Many will never have been to a school where there was a (Christian) Assembly each morning, and where the Bible was part of their education.

Our newspapers regularly tell of people claiming huge sums of money for minor injuries whereas a soldier who loses a leg or an arm gets so little.

In contrast we read the pathetic story of a man suing a baker because the baker whilst agreeing to make a cake for the man nevertheless refused to put a slogan on the cake because of his religious belief and faith. The man claimed his feelings ‘were hurt’.

What then shall the righteous do?

The righteous are represented by the Church, and whichever denomination you choose, it may reasonably be said is not fit for the purpose our Lord created the Church.

A great difficulty arises within the Church in that it does not speak with one voice and message and therefore lacks credibility.. At present we have those who are theologically conservative trying to be faithful to Scripture, whilst those of liberal persuasion, want to rewrite those parts of Scripture which do not conform to modern morality and social custom. It is fatuous and irrational to suppose biblical injunctions, which do not conform to modern attitudes, can be reinterpreted to suit to-day’s requirements. The Bible does not need any amendments. We have allowed the absolute authority of the Bible to be challenged, so that people venture more and more away from its teaching. God will condemn those who challenge His authority

This can only cause confusion in people’s minds. They can be excused for saying if the Church can’t make its own mind up, how can they expect us to believe and trust them. No Muslim would ever think of challenging their holy book, the Koran, and look in amazement that even within the Church, there are those who dispute much of our Holy Book.

The Church is beginning to look more influenced by the world rather than the other way round. The more we try to be relevant, the more irrelevant to our purpose we become. We should not be blown away by every whim of public opinion, but let our anchor hold in the storms of life. Let us stand for the old standards, the way Christians once did no matter how difficult that might become, and not go with the trend of the times where the secularists are setting the agenda.

The Church should be following the example set by the Apostles who were taught by Jesus who sent them out to proclaim His gospel. They went out across the world telling of the unique and divine Birth of Jesus; His being sent by God to do His work on earth, to die upon the Cross for the forgiveness of all our sins, that we may be made righteous in God’s sight, and was risen from the dead and continued to teach |His Apostles until ascending back to heaven. God then sent the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles at Pentecost with the message that all who accept Jesus as Saviour will be granted salvation.

The Bible states a house which is divided among itself will fall and such is the reason for the poor attendances at our Churches. If we gave them the full story of Jesus rather than the half hearted adulterated preaching now being given we may well find more interest in the Church.

There is false teaching being put out which is readily being accepted rather than the factual one, that one only has to be a nice honest person to attain a future place in heaven. There is also a marked reluctance to preach the need for repentance and personal acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

We need to be more positive, even aggressive, in giving people a clear vision of what it means to be a Christian and to have a Christian based society. We now have to proclaim it boldly and challenge those who try to put us down.

So, what for the future of the Church? There is hope and confidence if all members realize there is no hope if they are content to sit back and say ethereally, ‘God will provide’. Christ did say ‘I will build my Church’, but He expects a little help from His friends.

We need a daring programme of revival, which God is challenging us to make. We within the Church need to ensure our services are always meaningful and encouraging. However, there is reluctance within some Churches to preach a vibrant Biblical message for fear of being criticised as being offensive to other faiths.

Whilst Christianity has been the faith of this country for centuries, in recent times our Churches have retreated and allowed a secular agenda to exercise undue influence on both society and the Church. People, I believe, are longing for and wanting spiritual leadership. Our strength is limited only by our faith. .

Instead of religious leaders writing letters to the press about politics and climate change, they should be writing against the marginalisation of our faith.

When you become a Christian you effectively become like a soldier, there is warfare between what the world wants and what God has laid down, and we enter a battlefield. The Bible calls on us to stand firm and not yield.

Every army needs to attack, and we should be promoting Christianity as vigorously, as other faiths push their faith, armed with the two edged sword of truth. Our faith is based on the historical and divine Jesus Christ who calls for people to turn back to God. Never let us be ashamed to tell the story of a Saviour who gave His life on the Cross, so that all we unworthy people may have our sins forgiven because He died that we may be made righteous for heaven when our life on this earth is over.

All who treasure the Christian faith, and the memory of those who gave their lives to preserve a Christian heritage, must work and pray for a spiritual revival of the Christian Church. The valiant hearts that died to preserve the loveliness of these lands we call Great Britain, will not be failed by God.

May we well remember the sacrifices others made on our behalf that we might be here at this hour? We must never ever forget the lives of so many gallant young men and women given that we may have peace in our lives, and Christianity in our hearts.

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