Sunday 16 July 2017

I want to speak to you this morning on a verse from Psalm 11. (v3)
‘When the foundations are being destroyed, what shall the righteous do?’

We have all witnessed the traditional foundations of law and order, social cohesion, morality based on biblical values and teaching, Christian education being given in schools, politicians creating legislation based on Christian principles. Much of those foundations have been destroyed to such an extent that there are now no moral absolutes, all is relative and one does one’s own thing.

But this morning I want to deal with the foundations of the Church being destroyed.

In all our Churches in this country this morning there will be people like you who devotedly come week by week to join in worship. After the service most will return home and probably have little to do with the Church until the following Sunday. Others may attend a midweek meeting, but even fewer will follow with great interest deeper matters affecting the Church at large.

I hear people expressing regret at falling attendance, which I share, due mainly to illness preventing attendance, dying or frustration. I take services in quite a number of Churches of mixed denomination and particularly notice difference from previous visits. The sad point is we are just not attracting the younger generation or even men and women less than 50 years of age, especially in the case of the Church of England from the middle class of society.

But is it any wonder; for any thinking person would ask themselves what does the Church stand for? I don’t even know; I know what it should stand for, but there is a marked difference.

General Synod met recently. When I am reminded of the approaching of a Synod I shudder and wonder what embarrassment I am likely to suffer for being known as an Anglican clergyman. As I take regular Methodist services some people get confused and I am spared somewhat. This apprehension was proved well founded when I read of the Church upholding and approving what is unequivocally described as sinful in the Bible.

Those of us who are privileged to be Ministers in our Churches have passed through Ordination and have vowed before God in a Cathedral service. In that service we accept that we will follow the will of God and not our own; to minister the doctrine and discipline of Christ and to banish and drive away all doctrine contrary to God’s Word.

There is no doubt not all are holding fast to such vows. This is due to some being fearful if they do too closely they will upset someone. Increasingly others just do not fully believe in what they are called to believe; some want to follow society’s ways.

So it was with a mixture of alarm, despair, astonishment and frankly disgust that I read of the Archbishop of York calling for Synod to reject a motion which stated there was ‘a need for the Bible to inform our understanding of the common good’; in other words rejecting the authority of the Bible. There was also the case of Bishops, the senior Officers of the Church, supporting motions which were in direct contradiction of the Bible’s teaching; in other words what God has called us to follow.

Then we had the Archbishop of York stated he could not sleep at night when he thought of therapy being offered to people who wanted to change from their homosexuality, even though it was their decision to do so.

The Bishop of Liverpool spoke in support of a motion to ban unwanted same sex attraction and said LGBTI orientation and identity is not a crime or a sin and people within the church should be given the choice and spoke in support to live in "faithful, permanent, stable" same-sex sexual relationships. The Bishop is patron of ‘gay pride’ on Merseyside.

If we cannot get clergy believing, supporting and living according to the Bible, we cannot expect God to bless and add to the Church. Remember, the Bible states it is God who builds up the Church.

In addition, we have an aggressive and forceful secularist and humanist lobby with a fixed and stated agenda to remove Christianity from the public arena, which they are determinedly pursuing, by activists in education, the press and judiciary and parliament, and as you have seen above even within the Church now and the Church is not combating them. Notice too how they do not attack Islam, for
they know their followers will challenge them.

So to the question, ‘what shall the righteous do?’ If a house is to last, it must be built on a strong foundation. Otherwise it will begin to crumble and the house will fall. In the same way, a church whose foundation is weak cannot endure. God’s Word is our true foundation

Even those who were not Christians were basing their ideas for a new nation on those Christian principles that we find in the word of God. In this age of religious pluralism we are told that no one religion should influence the decisions of those in political power, and the influence of Christian standards will not be considered
We must continue to spread the word of God in a world that is hostile to it, and live what we preach. We must live in such a way as to show others how right it is to live according to God’s word.

The righteous are represented by the Church, which is a moral disinfectant for the nation. Therefore the Church should stop embracing, applauding and practising what is deemed to be wrong in Scripture. If others outside the Church wish to indulge that is a matter for them and God will one day make a judgement.

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. We have allowed the absolute authority of the Bible to be challenged, so that people venture more and more away from its teaching. If Christians lose the shared beliefs that have held us together, we will begin to fall apart and disintegrate.

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.

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.

Today the Church in the West is in decline, in stark contrast to Africa, Asia, South America, where the Churches have memberships of thousands. The reason these Churches are so strong is because of the strong biblical foundation, and they have not been tearing the Bible away as we have in the West. They still believe it and boldly proclaim it, often suffering much hardship for doing so. 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 and avoid any suggestion of future judgement.

A pastor in America was asked a question on a television show which the host knew would be controversial. He was asked to give his opinion as a pastor on homosexuality. He replied “ I’m not called to give my opinion. I’m called as a pastor to give the scriptural position on it. It doesn’t mean that I have to agree with you to love you. I don’t dislike anybody. I love everybody.” “I think that sex between two people of the same sex is condemned in the Scriptures, and as long as it is condemned in the Scriptures, I don’t get to say what I think. I get to say what the Bible says.’

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.

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. .

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.

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. There is a spiritual and moral vacuum, and if we do not fill it some other philosophy will which will be much inferior

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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