Wednesday 28 June 2017

A Jewish Girls School in London has been visited by the Education Department’s Inspection tam and has been classified as below standards. This is despite
pupils being well motivated teachers having good subject knowledge. Behaviour is good, and pupils ‘behave well. The school teaches pupils to respect everybody, regardless of beliefs and lifestyle. The staff are well trained and the school is fully compliant on all matters of safeguarding, health and safety, pupil welfare and buildings.
Most people would consider this an ideal school to send their daughter. But not the Education Inspection team because they are not taught about gender reassignment or sexual orientation because the curriculum and learning policy is written in accordance with the school’s faith position.
So it doesn’t matter how good the school otherwise is if the school simply refuses to teach very young children about gender reassignment will lead to closure. It is appalling that schools are being forced to discuss gender reassignment and all the explicit details of sex, both natural and unnatural). Is it any wonder Britain has the highest teenage pregnancies in Europe?
This will affect all other faith schools which refuse, as a matter of faith, to teach about LGBT issues. I bet they won’t visit Muslim schools and make the same demands. Religious belief, it’s now been made crystal clear has no consideration by Inspection teams.
Is it not a bit hypocritical of the Archbishop of Canterbury to be advising the Prime Minister how to conduct Brexit negotiation talks in unity with other parties, when the Church is falling apart because no one in high office can negotiate a unified policy on same sex marriage and homosexuality in his own Church?
A priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church has just been consecrated a Bishop by the North American Anglican Church because he was disgusted by the Scottish Church adopting same sex marriage. Sadly the Archbishop of Canterbury regretted the action despite pleading in other places he did not support such ceremonies

Politicians, the Press, and especially the BBC are getting all steamed up about the Democratic Unionist Party being a support for the government just because they believe in traditional marriage and are opposed to unrestricted abortion. It doesn’t seem to be a matter for consideration that the government of the country is in peril, without any party able to exercise overall control; and the added horrific prospect of a government led by men who have shown anarchistic tendencies as an alternative to the Conservatives.
There were 190,406 abortions in this country last year and Scottish leaders want to invite women from Northern Ireland to go to Scotland for free abortions because it is banned in Northern Ireland.
There is a suggestion that the Church of England and the Methodist Church are to merge together. From personal experience and a common understanding through taking services in both, I cannot see that being a success. The Anglo Catholics will not surrender their semi-Roman tendencies and beliefs; the Methodists will not want to wear robes, and whilst Anglicans do not need to wear robes now, heaven help any man who does not.
The reason for such proposal is obviously because of falling attendances, and to some extent this could be mitigated by some intelligent reappraisal in both Churches.
The Church of England is so confused as to what it believes that fewer and fewer people both out of the Church as well as those within understand what it stands for.
In the Methodist Church the itinerant ministry is now outdated and in desperate, even if sincere, desire to keep going they are having preachers who are frankly not suitable. Lay preaching was introduced at a time when there was deep commitment to Biblical teaching, and even then Charles Wesley was fiercely opposed to such.
In both Churches there is a need to examine if there are too many Churches. I was once in a town where there were ten Churches of England against only two Roman Catholic ones; and there were also Methodists and Baptists. Most had small congregations.
We need to pray for both.

Sunday 25 June 2017

Nehemiah 8 ,v.1 to 4, 8 to 12
This morning I want to turn with you to the reading from the Book of Nehemiah. We will see from this reading a marvelously clear statement of how a church service ought to be conducted!

The primary business of Christians is to understand the Word of God so as to think God's thoughts after him -- to learn to think like God. It is not only important to know what the Scripture says, it is even more important to know what it means!

Nehemiah was a Jew taken into exile by the Babylonians and after they had been defeated by the Persians, he became a cup bearer to the King, and later became civil governor of Jerusalem.

The people of Israel had been taken into captivity to Babylon and after 70 years were returning to Jerusalem, their spiritual homeland then in ruins, to rebuild their lives and homes. The walls of the city had been destroyed and needed to be rebuilt. Nehemiah knew that when this was done a spiritual foundation would also be needed for a spiritual vacuum had been created. There was a need for a firm spiritual and moral foundation as well as wealth and material things.

So on the first day of the seventh month, which according to the Hebrew calendar would be 8th October 445BC, Ezra the priest brought the Law and read it aloud from daybreak till noon to all the people he faced in the square before the Water Gate.

This indicates the tremendous desire of these people for truth. They listened and the fact that they stood for so long shows how much they wanted to hear from God. They were simply crying out for His guidance.
Notice also that the place where they met was by the Water Gate, the seventh gate, a prominent number to the Jews, a number signalling perfection. There were a series of gates, sheep, fish, east, etc. this gate was the symbol of the Word of God -- the water of the Word. There could have been no more appropriate place for them to assemble.

Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform. In some of the churches of Scotland they have high pulpits in the centre of the Church. They have a ceremony in which an Officer in the Church of Scotland, called the Beadle, comes marching down the aisle with an open Bible in his hand held high, and the people stand. As he places the Bible on the pulpit they say, "Amen! Amen!"
Then we learn how careful it was made clear what the meaning of Scripture was. They read from the Book of the Law of God, giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.

This teaching had such a profound effect upon the people that we are told they wept as they listened. They did so because they realised how their lives had gone astray and they had wrong thoughts and ways. When God’s people get away from loving and reading and obeying the Word of God they lose the blessing of God upon their lives. The cause of their problems lay in their own thoughts and attitudes. These people saw the holiness of God contrasted against the evil of man.

Let us look now as to how this passage about events that occurred so many hundreds of years ago can relate to us to day. There is in fact much we can learn from this passage, Nehemiah realised that a nation needs more than material works and wealth, it needs a spiritual dimension. Today so many people are greatly affected by the philosophy of the world, and are too ready to follow ideas and fashion from the media, ideas and attitudes that we are hardly aware of as being wrong, but feel compelled to adopt.

The Bible states, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." The instrument of that renewing is always the Word of God.

The purpose of the Church is to encourage and get Christians to read the Bible, and thereby be more aware of God’s intention for this life.

It would be interesting to know how many Church members actually read their Bible at home. During his Crusades Billy Graham would ask the people if they had brought a Bible to hold it up and thousands of Bibles were raised. Such days and practices are now long gone.

It may be asked, ‘why do I need to read the Bible?’
The Bible gives us access to the mind of God. The more we read the more we will know God’s intention for us. Just as you spend more time in a person’s company you get to know them better, so as you spend time with God through His Word, the better you will know Him.

The whole Bible is about God’s offer of salvation through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.
In the Old Testament Jesus is predicted.
In the Gospel Jesus is revealed.
In Acts Jesus is preached.
In the Epistles Jesus is explained.
In Revelation Jesus is anticipated.

We need the Bible to have a relationship with God and it brings us into the presence of God. All true Christian ministry should be based on the Bible, it is our only authority for the Church to exist.
When the word is opened up, people begin to understand themselves. This is the great thing about Scripture. When you know God you begin to understand yourself, because you are made in the image of God. These people in Jerusalem were soon growing in self-knowledge as they began to hunger for the Word of God.

The great tragedy of our day is how few churches seem to understand this power of Scripture. Across the country there are churches in which there is little life. The services are dull and dreary because the Word of God is not central. Whenever there has been a revival in the Church at the forefront were men like Charles and John Wesley or Evan Roberts in the 1904 Welsh revival, men who were boldly preaching the Bible.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of the greatest preachers of modern times once stated, ‘the primary task of the Church and Christian Ministers is the preaching of the Word of God. The decadent times in the history of the Church have always been when such preaching has declined.’

In stark contrast to Africa, Asia, South America, where there is a strong biblical foundation, and they still believe it and boldly proclaim it, many Churches in the West have given up on Scriptural teaching and have engaged in dismantling the Bible and re-interpreting to fit in with the morality (or lack of it) they wish to portray. Can you imagine a Muslim cleric challenging the Koran?
Of all that is happening today, the most frightening thing is the lack of a sense of sin in society, a total lack of moral values.

People are doing terrible things -- murdering one another, raping one another, hurting each other right and left -- but they do not feel they are doing anything wrong.. That is what the Word of God is given to correct. It awakens afresh an awareness of what is causing the wrong.

Politicians have added to people’s moral confusion by enacting legislation to satisfy a vociferous minority group totally out of proportion to their size.

Many of us here to-day grew up in a totally different culture. We may not have had all the wonderful technological aids and comforts that now are available, but we benefited in other ways. Like Timothy we were taught about the Bible at home and went to Sunday school as youngsters, learning the stories about Jesus, which gave us standards and values and a good foundation for life. We had morning assemblies in all schools, now largely avoided in (state) schools. This may not have been widely followed up in life, but the basics had been laid and our lives were directed and influenced by Christian values. Children are now denied these foundations and are growing up without knowing the country’s religious faith and heritage.

It is so easy to say that is just being old fashioned and dismiss. Old fashioned we may be, but we didn’t have 1in 2 divorce rate—such anti-social behaviour and juvenile delinquency- the highest abortion rate in Europe-= the highest number of teenage pregnancies in Europe- we knew what being a Christian meant.

A lot of people are now trying to discredit the Bible suggesting it is all fairy tale writing. Can we then be sure the Bible is true?

Most of those people have not read even read the Bible. To them, the Bible is a form of hate literature. Thus, other people are deluded into the belief the Bible is full of mistakes and is no longer relevant to our modern world.

The King James Version of the Bible has been described by academics and intellectuals alike as the greatest and most influential book of the ages, containing the most beautiful literature and the most perfect moral code ever devised. If one will seriously investigate these Biblical evidences, it will be found the claims of divine inspiration (stated over 3,000 times, in various ways) were amply justified.

If the churches of this land saw the Bible in that light, and listened attentively and eagerly to what it was saying, and learned how to communicate that message to the world, do you think our world would be in the condition that it is today?

In the absence of any outstanding preacher on the national stage, each local Church has the added responsibility of making sure the Bible is faithfully and boldly preached. Preachers must give a strong but simple message, and congregations must be prepared to listen and not expect to be just entertained.

In his last message, given to Timothy, Paul stressed that all sermons should be expositions of the Bible and not on other topics, personal meanderings or fancy gimmicks. This is a message all we preachers should heed. If we fail to do so we, and the Churches we represent, will lose all claim to credibility.

Wednesday 21 June 2017

The story of the Transfiguration.

This is one of the most dramatic stories in the Bible. It comes just after Jesus had been asking His Apostles who they thought He was and received Peter’s great confession, and after He had told them He was on the way to the Cross to die and then be raised.

Jesus wanted to be alone on the mountain top and took with Him on the journey three Apostles with whom He appeared to have a special relationship, namely Peter, James and John; these three Apostles were also with Jesus when He raised Jairus’ daughter, and in His agony in the garden. The mountain was thought to be Mount Hermon, one so high it could be seen from many miles away. The climb must have been strenuous for Luke tells us they were feeling sleepy and tired.

Jesus was going up the mountain that He might receive God’s confirmation that it was the intention for Him to go to the Cross. Jesus we find always was anxious to consult with God at His every step. Here is a lesson and good advice for us.

Each year I go to Scotland, and up in the Highlands you can go up the Cairngorms on the mountain railway, and whilst there is the obligatory shop and café, there is also a balcony. You can there gaze down on scenery unsurpassed in any other country and see one of God’s most glorious creations. You can feel close to God on a mountain top, away from the ordinary things of life.

Mountains figure conspicuously in the Bible. It was on Mount Sinai that Moses received the Commandments; Mount Horeb that God spoke to Elijah. Jesus we are told was transfigured on His Mountain, meaning His appearance changed. There He met two of Israel’s great names, Moses who brought the law from God and Elijah the supreme prophet through whom God spoke, and they discussed the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem. They advised Jesus to go forward being the One foretold of in the Old Testament.

Many people are puzzled as to how God speaks to men and they scoff at such talk. I believe a lot of what is claimed to be from God is self manipulated. I once visited a Theological College where ordinands were completing their training and I was surprised to hear how God had told so many to go to the South of England; I am sure God really does care for the North as well.

God speaks to us in several ways. Sometimes it is through a preacher. I had a lady who came to Church very infrequently and one time she said I always seemed to be getting at her. I told her that as I prepared beforehand and never knew when she was coming, it may be that someone higher than me was getting at her.

Many people were converted by one of the posters containing Scriptural messages placed by the London City Mission in the Tube Stations. Sometime God speaks through our conscience, or when we pray about something and an answer comes into our mind, not always perhaps the answer we want although probably for your ultimate good.

When Peter realised what was happening he offered to build three tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. He was struck with awe and wanted to prolong the experience, and offered to build three tabernacles. Jesus rebuked him for he was in error in that he was equating Jesus with Moses and Elijah.

We all like to feel we are on top of the world both figuratively and actually, but most of us live their lives more realistically on the level or down in a valley.

This can happen at worship. When Billy Graham came to England thousands went to hear him and came away on a spiritual mountain. They had heard the world’s greatest and most successful preacher, massed choirs singing glorious hymns; then the following Sunday went to Church and realised they had come down to earth with a shattering bump. Instances were quoted of Vicars mocking Billy and wanting their old staid services, some Bishops even wanted to stop him coming. Even now Church leaders are anxious to change Scripture to meet modern cultural desires.

The lesson of the Transfiguration is that we must always let God speak to us and follow His Word; He has a plan for all our lives. When we turn to Him we too can reach a mountain top, but also we can close our minds to Him and lie in the valley.

This passage tells of Moses who had died many years before, as did Elijah, yet there they are alive but in glory. This should indicate to us that when our last breath is breathed in this life there is another to come, another world beyond the grave.

There is much mysterious about the future, things we cannot understand, but let us be sure God has all planned and Jesus is taking care of those who have gone to be with Him, as He will with us.

Monday 19 June 2017

I have often suggested that there are those within the Church of England who want to challenge the words of Jesus who said, ‘I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it’. They are certainly giving a good impression of trying to prevail against it. There seems to be a death wish.

An advert has been placed for a Strategic Programme Manager in the Diocese of Truro. The purpose is to lead and coordinate a mission and to be passionate about enabling spiritual growth. The applicant DOES NOT NEED TO BE A PRACTISING CHRISTIAN. This has been placed in the ‘Guardian’ newspaper, where else, so there is no need to fear an evangelical or conservative Christian will apply.

You really must wonder what sort of mind would place such an advert. It is like inviting one of the current Labour Party Members to lead an election programme for the Conservative Party.

At the next General Synod meeting there is going to be a discussion on how to accommodate transgender people who adopt a new name. The Synod is to debate a proposal from the Blackburn diocese which calls for liturgical material to mark a person’s gender transition. Diocesan priest the Rev Chris Newlands said the call came after a transsexual called George had been ‘wrestling with the spiritual dimension of what was happening to him’ as he was changing sex and ‘felt the need to reintroduce himself to God, with his new name and gender identity’.

The Church of England suggested it will offer transgender Christians ‘re-christenings’ with their new names. Vicars cannot re-baptise those who have changed sex, but could use existing ‘services of welcome’ to announce a new name before God.

The Church’s most senior official, Synod Secretary General William Nye, said the Church can have no objection if they want to have an ‘Affirmation of Baptismal Faith’ service in a new name. The affirmations would benefit senior bishops because the decision to carry out the service would be left in the hands of local priests. Bishops would not need to permit the service or take part.

The move follows humiliation for Archbishop Welby in February when his attempt to secure a compromise in the Church’s 30-year struggle over gay rights collapsed. Liberals did not accept a refusal to allow same-sex marriage while traditionalists rejected the idea that churches might say prayers to celebrate gay relationships.

Having established the so called gay rights, the move is now to push the transgender idea, which is moving apace. No matter how hard that is done, there is nothing they can do to alter the fact that God made man and made woman, and no amount of surgery can change that, and with a body having 6500 genes, that is too many to mess with.

This is becoming both shameful and ridiculous. We are breaking with over 500 years of Church belief and are ready and willing to ignore Scripture and rewrite doctrine to accommodate what is unequivocally against what God Has laid down, in order to accommodate a tny minority, but over powerful, lobby.

And some are naïve enough to wonder why the Church is falling apart with falling attendances.

The Scottish Episcopal Church, a branch of the Anglican Community, led by the Presiding Bishop, has welcomed the ability to perform same sex marriage services.

This is an oxymoron for a start, as two people of the same sex cannot (religiously) marry, according to Scripture. Then again, the Bible does not seem to matter in the Church if it conflicts with what society wants.

I am reminded of the verse in Scripture which states, ‘when I was a child I spoke, thought and reasoned as a child’. However, although some of us, have more integrity which we have taken into adult life. It is apparent many in the ordained ministry of the Anglican Church (at least) do not have integrity or honour or loyalty.

Every man, and now woman, who is ordained as a priest affirms to their bishop that he/she will teach that which is recorded in Scripture, and will banish all false doctrine. No matter what verbal semantics people may try, the Bible, (which remember, is God speaking), is unequivocal that marriage is only between a man and a woman. To accept, encourage and applaud that which is directly against God’s ordinance, is to dishonour the vow they made, and if there was any honour would mean they should consider their presence in Christian ministry.

We have to understand we in the Church face an aggressive and determined secular faction who are anti Christian, and see the way to fulfilling their agenda is the need to nullify the Church and all it stands for and believes in. One method is to destroy the concept of the traditional family; another is to infiltrate the education system; and now it is well on the way to infiltrate the Church.

Saturday 17 June 2017

I want to turn with you this morning to the 21st verse of the 7th Chapter of Matthew’s gospel. Jesus said, ‘not everyone who calls me Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven’.

In every action of life we are confronted with a choice, where we must make a decision to do one thing or another. In this passage, which comes at the end of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is confronting us with a hard or an easy way. He makes uncompromising and tough demands of commitment, which many people cannot take, and are not prepared to commit.

Then as now, some are ready to listen and walk with Him, learning to depend on Him, whilst others are just occasional supporters. Here we find Jesus talking to His disciples and to a great crowd of people gathered on a mountain. He is preaching to them describing the character for Christians and the rules by which they are to live. He turns to teach about salvation.

He taught there are two gates, to two roads, and two masters, oneself and Christ. He said there are two destinies, heaven and hell and divided people into two classes. There are only two roads, no third, no alternative. This is not generally liked as it is seen as being too restrictive, too bigoted and intolerant, and we don’t like to be judged. We have come to a state in this country now where a Christian person may not express a personal view based on sincere religious belief if it might offend someone. This does not apply apparently to other faith speakers.

Yet in spite of all this, Jesus says we must enter through the narrow gate. So let us look at the choice we face and consider honestly which road each of us is on and to where heading.

It is like coming to a crossroads each road going in the opposite direction. On the broad road you enter by a wide gate and the road is spacious, there is plenty of room on it and there are plenty of people on it. It is the road of self-gratification without any restrictions. There are even otherwise decent men and women on it, so many claiming to be Christians albeit without due cause. It is widely assumed, and strongly encouraged by the secular press, that if you are honest and sincere you will go to heaven.

In all the thousands of funerals I have taken over the years, in every case there has never been any doubt that the deceased is in heaven irrespective of the manner of living. We see the paradox when a relative tells in admiring tones of all the dubious activities the deceased got up to..

Others say if you just follow your conscience you’ll be fine, but consciences become dulled and hardened. Taking the lead from politicians, people can look you in the eye and lie without any qualm of conscience.

You see the Bible is all about commitment. We are reminded of the superficiality of commitment in our own time. Less than 10% of people think God worthy of one hour per week to visit a Church. Yet if you were to ask people their religion, the vast majority would reply C of E and seriously consider they were Christians. They would be mortally offended if you suggested otherwise. Yet very few people seem bothered to think of Jesus, even less to do anything about it.
It is easy to say I am a Christian.
Easy to profess being a Christian.
Easy to say I read the Bible.
95% of the population today believe as long as you are honest, kind and helpful to others and do no harm, you are a fully fledged Christian

With its freedom of self expression the broad road attracts many.

As we come to the narrow gate leading to the narrow road, which Jesus wants us to take but says only few take it, and those who do must do through Him. John 14 despite being non correct in many Churches now, still states ‘no one can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ.’ He is the only way.

Being narrow these days means you are classed as bigoted. You are expected to be broad minded, be modern, 2+2=5. The road is narrow because it is the way of truth and truth is always narrow. It is the way of holiness and righteousness.

Jesus said there is a life to come and it is a long life, it is eternal, and there are only two destinies, and as you come to the crossroads, you alone choose, God will not push you. He gave you the ability to choose and lets you do so. Where you end up in eternity will be determined by which road you take, so what you do in the world is important.

One of these roads leads to destruction the other to life with Jesus. He took time to remind people of the seriousness of salvation. He wanted all to be sure of the future. People do prefer the easy road in life but Jesus made it plain He wants us to journey down the difficult road and enter the narrow gate.

Jesus then spoke of false prophets, who are like wolves in sheep’s clothing. In New Testament times they were men who wandered around the country giving out messages which people wanted to hear. They were not part of the Church. Now we have them within the Church. Their basic motive was, as it is now, self interest to disseminate their version of the truth, and they can cause enormous damage.

Jesus said ‘by their fruits you will recognise them’ What determines whether a preacher is a false prophet is whether what he/she speaks is in accordance with biblical teaching, that is the test.

In today’s times there is sadly a great divide on issues, and the people outside the Church are naturally confused. If we in the Church cannot agree with what Scripture says, we cannot expect those outside to believe or be interested in us. The Bible loses all credibility and so do we.

Neither can the narrow road be pursued if we are motivated by a desire to please society. True disciples of Jesus Christ will not play to the galleries or form values according to the passing approval of people in general. God’s approval is all that matters.

Finally Jesus speaks firmly and rather profoundly when He says not all who think they are to enter the Kingdom of heaven will in fact do so. But it can be hard to be a Christian in this country at the present time and many find the going too hard and strenuous and the opposition oppressive. Any open expression of our faith is likely to lead to suspension or dismissal from work. There is so much harassment of Christians which is not reported here and you have to listen to the American news channels to discover what is going on in this country.

70 years ago brave young men took to the skies to fight the Battle of Britain against a ruthless foe. Today, as Christians, we need to fight the battle for Britain, against equally ruthless foes who want to drive Christianity out of public life and turn it into a private cult. We are like fighters in enemy occupied territory.

The government has sold out to the liberal lobby and has taken legal powers to prevent Christians from opting out of that which contravenes their beliefs. How Jesus would weep over Britain today as He did over Jerusalem, as He sees the obstacles put in our way.

As Christians we must always seek to glorify the Lord in our ways and speech. Church members can let the Lord down if things don’t please them. We find people walking out of Church if someone says something they disagree with, or proposes something different with which they disagree, or if they are not given the deference they feel due. There is no subject, which should be beyond Christians to resolve amicably.

You may have read of the Vicar and Curate who gave a very literal exposition of Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians on the duties of husbands and wives, a little adventurous and imprudent for a Southern county. Rather than enter into a discussion with the Vicar, a number of women walked out taking their direct debits with them. Such action falls from grace and only tends to drag Christianity through the mud.

Jesus warns us that there must be a clear acceptance of His teaching and total obedience to it. Just to recite a creed and attend Church is not enough. We honour Jesus by calling Him Lord and sing hymns expressive of our devotion to Him. The lips that sing His praise should never be the lips that start trouble.

Jesus ended His discourse with a call to build on strong foundations so that outside forces cannot come and destroy. May we do so and walk through the narrow gate to our eternal destiny with the Lord, and be so worthy that He will grant us entry into the Kingdom of heaven.

Saturday 10 June 2017


The Epistle for today comes from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthian Church. This is one of two of Paul’s Letters to that Church which was situated in the heart of Corinth, a major trade centre and seaport where several cultures and religions met.

There was a certain arrogance on the part of some members and division occurred within the Church. The social and moral attitude of the city had crept into the Church membership, which was also having a bad effect In his First Letter Paul gave advice and guidance mixed with rebuke on a wide range of social, ethical moral and spiritual matters.

After Timothy had visited the Church on Paul’s behalf and reported back that Paul’s opponents were speaking against him and questioning his authority, Paul wrote this Letter and ends by giving them warnings regarding their future. We have today the last words where he summarises his message and speaks of the practical implications of living as God’s people. He addresses them as brothers, which in biblical terms includes sisters, and it was an affectionate term to include the whole Church. He never addresses those who are rebellious as brothers.

The city had been described as the Soho of its day with all that implies, and some of the members had become attracted to the ways of the world so causing Paul distress, necessitating him to write these Letters. He calls on them to live worthily in harmony and peace with each other, living with Christian love which is often hard, for there are always in every age people who want to mix the world’s standards with Church teaching. We see this very vividly in our present time when people with leading roles in the Church accepting, embracing and applauding culture’s behaviour.

Paul is saying Christians must live life together able to relate to one another, and they should be full of joy, rather than life being like it is in some places a war zone.

Paul ends the Letter with the Trinitarian benediction. The doctrine of the Trinity is an important doctrine, although is hard to understand and even harder to explain, which is why a lot of preachers try to avoid doing so. All our services begin with the words, ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and we often end with the same and baptise with those words.

We speak of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, but the Bible states,’ hear O Israel the Lord our God is one God’, who is present in all three.
God was fully God when He made the world
God was/is fully God living in thesaving grace of Jesus
God is fully God when He lives in the power of the Holy Spirit. These are not three different Gods but one with three different dimensions or three different qualities.
Let us look at each.

The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul wants us to know when he speaks of the grace of Jesus, you and I achieve salvation because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross, that gracious act of undeserved kindness who gave His life willingly so that we are made right with God. Great Riches At Christ’s Expense. We are spared any punishment for our sins. This is why Jesus was sent by God for that purpose; this is the heart of the gospel message.

The love of God the Father.
When people speak of love generally, it is either an emotional feeling, or even more so something sensual. We are plagued with many songs all about love, but the deepest and truest love stories are those which are mysterious and profound.

Paul wanted us to fully appreciate the love of God which is beyond all understanding and which cared for the world so much He sent His only Son to suffer such a cruel death on the Cross so we should not perish. God’s love is extended to all His children, just as an earthly father loves his own. But such love is for His own, just as an earthly father loves his own. We are God’s children only when we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Remember the words of the Bible, Jesus said.’ no one comes to the Father except through me’. This is why it is vitally important for us to have those we love come to know the love of God by turning to Jesus; there is no other way

God is a righteous and just God and as such, demands payment for sin, which has been met by Jesus on the Cross.

Imagine a Judge in a Court of law who has before him a woman who has stolen food to feed her child because she has no money to afford it. He imposes a fine which the woman pleads she cannot pay, so the judge has to impose a penalty, but in pity writes a cheque and pays himself. Such is God’s action to us.

Paul then turns to the third person of the Trinity the Holy Spirit.
Paul is saying there is a fellowship all Christians enjoy and experience through the Holy Spirit, and that that experience is what unites them. We are no longer out of relationship with God, we think of Him as a Father.

You and I as Christians achieve salvation because of the sacrifice made on the Cross, that gracious act of Jesus enable us to know the love of God through the gift of God the Holy Spirit. This must flow out over the whole Church and there should never be any difficulty or hindrance in Christians being able to relate to each other, even if we have not previously met.

But the Church is not a social club where we meet for an hour or so once a week. There has to be the truth of the Bible present in our heart and mind. We can meet as strangers and part as brothers an sisters.

At one time I lived in Mombasa Kenya, a major port on the East coast of Africa. Regularly ships would bring missionaries from other lands, principally from the United States, and whilst Americans are generally friendly people, we were able to engage with them in a way which we would not with other people, simply because we have the same God, same Father and the same Saviour, same Spirit within us.

The fellowship of the Holy Spirit is just one of the blessings of being in Christ that we can know a bond which stretches across time and space to unite us with many we have never met and barriers are broken down in the fellowship of believers

We become Christians through the grace of Jesus; the love of God allows us to walk in that grace and the Holy Spirit brings us to be at one with each other, which can stop all in fighting and the rivalry which sometimes invades and infects a Church.

May we experience that amazing grace in our lives and be true disciples of Jesus

Friday 2 June 2017

We are looking at the 2nd Chapter top Acts this morning; for me a favourite chapter, and one which should be to ever Christian. It is a description of the successful first Church.

Let us go through the verses of this great Chapter.

The day of Pentecost was one of the greatest days in the history of the Church, for it was on that day the Church was born. All the believers were gathered in the one place. The Holy Spirit, the source of all guidance which moved the Apostles came upon them as Jesus had prophesied in the signs of wind, tongues of fire, and the ability to speak other languages.

In addition, the city was filled with Jews from very nation living in Jerusalem. There were three great festivals which every Jew who lived within 20 miles was obliged to attend, and as the Feast of Weeks, this was both an historical occasion commemorating the giving of the Commandments to Moses, with the agricultural significance of the Passover when two loaves were offered to God in gratitude for the completed gathering of the harvest.

When the various nations heard their language being spoken by people not from their country, they were startled and amazed. The more cynical mocked and suggested the speakers were drunk, a typical reaction of those who will not accept what they cannot understand.

Peter then stepped forward and made that historic sermon, first pointing out the impossibility of drunk as it was early in the morning, but telling it was the fulfilment of a prophecy of the Old Testament prophet Joel.

The prophecy was that in last days, the days between the Ascension of Jesus and His returning to earth, the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon His people, old and young men and women; and all who call upon the name of Jesus will be saved. Being saved simply means you have been assured of your salvation.

Peter then said what had happened was part of God’s plan and foreknowledge and reminded them that they killed and crucified Jesus, and he testifies to the fact He had seen Jesus crucified and resurrected. He was an eye witness so was fully qualified to be believed.

Peter’s words pierced their hearts, they were convicted and when they asked what they should do, he told them to repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. This does not mean if you are baptised you earn salvation; there must be repentance of the past and have faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour.

Repentance is a word often misunderstood. Most people think it means just saying sorry for the past, but rather you are going to change your way of thinking and acting. You accept Jesus was not just a great teacher or social worker, but was the Son God and Saviour of mankind.

No Christian doctrine has been so abused as baptism. The Bible calls for a declaration of faith, commitment to the teachings of Jesus, and acceptance of Him as Saviour. It is was not meant to be the casual act as now when anyone can ask for baptism and be told just turn up at the Church at date and time. To baptise children of parents who have no Church affiliation is a mockery

Peter said this promise was all, Jews and Gentiles, everyone the Lord calls.
Peter said this promise was all, Jews and Gentiles, everyone the Lord calls. Such was the effect of |Peter’s words that 3,000 were added to the Church that day. They met and devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles who had been taught by our Lord; met in fellowship, and were filled will awe and inspiration, and such was rewarded by God who added to their numbers each day. I wonder how many congregations are filled with awe and are inspired at services in this age.

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. They told of Christ coming to this earth in a unique way; of the miracles Jesus performed; how He gave up His life for us by dying on the Cross so that our sins could be forgiven by God, so assuring us of eternal with Him.

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. 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.
This tells us people come to faith in Jesus only by God touching the heart and people have the free will to respond or reject Him.

Many people do not understand those words of Jesus. This, together with other Scripture, tells us people come to faith in Jesus only by God touching the heart and people have the free will to respond or reject Him. God brings the words of the Bible to us and we have to choose.

Let us now consider what we can learn and apply to today’s Church.

It is in God’s plan that His Church will grow. Having seen how that early Church responded under apostolic teaching, we need to consider how the Church now in this critical time responds with its teaching of the Scriptures. Every so often some Committee puts forward some proposal to combat the problem of falling attendances in the Church. I do not doubt the sincerity of such Committee, but I do doubt the need for such. We now have different types of services; Messy Church, Café Church and whatever kind of Church, which do attract in a mild way, but such attraction does not lead to much, if any, increase in membership. It is the non biblical part that attracts.

The Church at Pentecost is the model for any Church; faithful preaching, true fellowship, and tuneful hymns. We should be telling the stories of Jesus, and of the guidance left for us in the Epistles.

Why, it may be asked, is it that the Lord is not adding to our Churches? He is in Africa, South Korea, China and South America. I suggest it is because in Britain and other Western nations 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.

It is a fact of life we live in a free and easy country where virtually no behaviour is considered to be morally wrong, and the moment anyone dares to criticise or suggest something is wrong and they are not living according to the Bible, they are labelled as phobic, bigots or discriminatory.

This always likely to occur when someone wants to join the politically correct crowd and tell you sanctimoniously, you shouldn’t say that. Unfortunately many people within the Church have adopted the way of the world, it has somewhat been accepted, and even applauded. This is so wrong; the Church should be setting an example and making its voice heard instead of secularists setting out their agenda.

A Danish philosopher once stated, whereas Jesus came and turned water into wine, the modern Church has managed to do something altogether more difficult, to change wine into water. Many will agree with him as we have watered down the gospel of our Lord so that people are confused as to what they exactly should believe.

There is a false Christianity around today. There are people who put on a Christian front. They act like Christians, they read the Book, and sing the hymns, but they have no reality of Christ in their lives. That kind of Christianity is worthless. 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.

Paul commanded Timothy 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. Jesus said the heart of the Christian faith is eternal life and that we may know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent.

He also warned that a time would come when people would not want to hear sound doctrine, but would find teachers who were willing to say what they wanted to hear. Sadly, such false teachers abound who are prepared to defy God.

At a time when the Church of England is haemorrhaging so fast, a bishop calls for the Church to hold a fast day once a month to pray for climate change; that was his concern not the gospel. On Easter Day last year, such a prominent day in the life of the Church, in a televised service from a Cathedral, the preacher lost an enormous opportunity to tell about Jesus by giving instead, of course climate change. These are only two examples of a lost cause which affects all Christians and not just Anglicans.

We have to ask ourselves, why is the Church here, and what is our responsibility to God? Our primary task is to preach the gospel. If we do not do that there is no purpose for the Church. Both Jesus and Paul put that before any other work they did. 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.

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.

When one politician spoke out for the Church in this country, and however much you may doubt the sincerity as opposed to political campaigning; the words he spoke were welcome. Yet within one day 50 angry liberal atheists got together and organised a protest widely circulated by press, radio and television.

Now compare that with the Church’s failure to respond as strongly when the previous Prime Minister redefined marriage to destroy 2000 years of Christian teaching; who in a submission to the Court of Human Rights opposed protection for the unborn child; who submitted to the same Court that the Cross was not a Christian symbol; that if you dared to speak out against same sex marriage you could resign rather than being dismissed.

Can you imagine either John or Charles Wesley supporting same sex marriage? Marriage was given by God at the creation of mankind; it is God’s first building block for society, and to change that would be to rip the heart out of God’s plan and purpose. Yet when the Methodist Church held a consultation on the question and the majority were against, it was decided to hold a decision and reconsider in two years time.

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.

One day every man and woman will have to give account for the way they have lived their lives, and preachers bear a much heavier responsibility, for as Paul warned Timothy, they have been given the privilege and task of proclaiming God’s Word and failure to do so will have to be answered for. We still have men/women preaching false doctrine, then attempting to justify doing so by misinterpreting Scripture.

If ever the Word of God was needed it is never more so than now. Never let us be reluctant or ashamed to proclaim it in a bold and positive way.

We need to pray that all Christians to have the same commitment and dedication to our faith as the followers of
Islam give to their faith. You will not hear a Muslim cleric criticise the Koran or challenge its teachings. They will not allow anyone else to abuse or mock, and whilst we may have a different belief, we must give credit for such loyalty. The BBC
once admitted that whilst the Bible is permitted to be the subject of (so called) humour, they would not allow the Koran be treated in such a way.

Sometimes a problem does arise when there are a range of preachers at the same Church. For instance, I am here this week with a conservative evangelical message and next week or soon after someone with a liberal approach will be here, a situation which arises in numerous Churches and understandably causes confusion in people’s minds as to who is right.

There is however one way of deciding; turn to your Bibles and see which message can be verified.

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.