Friday 25 August 2017

Jesus said, ‘I will build my Church’.
When Jesus said those words He meant that His Church would have those people who were committed to follow Him and His teaching.
In many parts of the world the church is growing very rapidly, but in the United Kingdom attendance is falling dramatically with less than a million people attending Church regularly. This is in direct contrast to Eastern nations where there is faithful bible teaching, as opposed to here where so many want to amend and re-interpret the Bible to meet the morality of our time.

A study of the Scriptures reveals that Jesus was not so much wanting quantity as quality. He said, Jesus said, ‘íf anyone does not take up his cross and follow me, he cannot be my disciple.’ He also condemned what He called lukewarm faith, and we can find much of that in our Churches. If attendances continue to fall however, we are faced with the prospect of the Church becoming a total irrelevance in this country. A lot of people are put off by disunity, for if we in the Church cannot agree what we believe in, what is right and what is wrong, we are not a credible body to lecture to others.

Jesus always made it clear that following Him would mean suffering of some kind; He said there would be a cost. This has meant minor suffering from being isolated or mocked by friends, even family, to the intense kind experienced by our brothers and sisters in Christ living in non Christian lands, where facing real hardship of beatings, imprisonment and even death are regular occurrences.

It is in such places that being a Christian really demands commitment and devotion beyond our comprehension in this country. Here we have been inclined to be unaware of hardship in being identified as Christian and felt able to express our faith if we so inclined, but since the premiership of David Cameron this is becoming more hazardous, with numerous prosecutions for merely quoting Scripture, which a judge recently stated might hurt the feelings of sensitive men. True Christianity means you stand up for Jesus even when things become hard. A Christian is someone who follows Christ no matter the cost. Christians in Africa have had to demonstrate that far too often.

In the Creed we say we believe in one Apostolic Church, which in many cases nowadays is incorrect, for to be an Apostolic Church, the teaching should be as given by the Apostles which God has preserved for us in the New Testament, and we know that teaching is often far removed from that left by the Apostles. So, if we want to see people added to the Church, we must get back to the teaching of the Apostles to seek and obtain God’s blessing upon us. The Apostles were taught by the Lord Himself, so we are in effect hearing the words of Jesus.

The Bible states, ‘all Scripture is inspired by God’; the Bible calls on preachers to ‘preach the Word’. The Bible does not say, as many try to imply, preach what you think applies to society today and leave out any controversial moral issues. We should all ponder quietly and sincerely, does my faith measure up to what God calls for in His Holy Word?
When the Word is based on Bible preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit, it produces deep conviction in the hearts of the hearers and people become convicted of their sin and their need for a Saviour, and accept Jesus as that Saviour who died on the Cross that they be forgiven of all sin. The Articles of the Church of England call for the preaching of the pure Word Of God, and to banish all false doctrine.

Recent cultural changes have destroyed the moral landscape to such an extent that anyone who holds views based on bible teaching on sexual ethics, one man/woman marriage, abortion, biological gender, will find them isolated.
When the Church abandons the truth in an effort to accommodate society it ceases to be the Church of Jesus Christ and will be little more than a social club. It has been stated, ‘Whereas Christ turned water into wine, the visible church has succeeded in doing something more difficult; it has turned wine into water."

Every Church should be like a family of brothers and sisters coming to meet with their (heavenly Father) just as children visit their earthly parents. You have to come with mind open so God can enter your heart, and strive for the fruits of the Spirit, namely love, joy kindness peace and gentleness, faithfulness and self control. I have seen too many who have the opposite characters and do not reflect any credit on the Church

So often a Church becomes like a dysfunctional family. A Jesus based Church is where we come together in harmony to enjoy fellowship

We all owe it as a duty and a privilege to be able to do something in the cause of evangelism in however small a way. Remember Jesus told one man to go to his own town and tell what the Lord had done for him. This can be done by simply letting friends know you attend Church, ordering your life in a way which clearly demonstrates you are a Christian, and you don’t have to go to the other end of the earth to do so.

We just start living for Christ in our daily lives to show others what a difference He makes. Having responded to Gods’ Word, you live it on a daily basis and others will notice.

So let us pray that we will always hear sound doctrine preached, and pray for the Holy Spirit to be upon us, and then we must depend on the Lord to give people the grace to respond with saving faith, and so that we may be true Christians worshipping in a truly Christian Church.

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Christian Concern is a legal defence team in the United Kingdom which was formed to defend Christians who suffered in any way because of their faith. The Chief Executive is Andrea Williams, who to my mind is as excellent a speaker for Christ and Christianity as one could wish to have. There does not appear to be anyone on the Christian scene in this country who speaks with such sincerity, devotion and lucidity. She is an inspiration to all of us who committed to the authority of the Bible; one can only hope and pray it might more fully inspire those whose direct responsibility it is to preach in the name of the Church.

I have great pleasure in reproducing an article written most recently by Andrea, which I have been given permission to do so, and recommend it for your reading. It here follows

'Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction.' 2 Timothy 4:2
If you want to preach the whole gospel of God – the state wants to shut you up.

When I read the judgment in Barry Trayhorn's case, I couldn't believe what I was reading. Throughout his hearing at the Employment Tribunal in London I had wanted pastors and lawyers to come and witness just what was going on. You need to see it to believe it. And you can't get the truth from the judgment. Judgments in Christian Legal Centre cases are often a parody of the truth.

There was no dispute on the facts of the case.
Reverend Barry Trayhorn is an ordained Pentecostal Minister. He worked in a tentmaker role as a gardener at the HMP Littlehey prison, which is a male sex offenders prison. Some of the prisoners have been imprisoned for raping women, girls, men, and boys.

Barry participated every week in the Christian chapel services, providing both music ministry and often delivering a sermon or message. The prison Chaplain was pleased to have his help but sadly failed to support him when it came to the crunch.

The service in the prison chapel was not mandatory, and prisoners could choose to attend or not. During a service, he quoted from memory I Corinthians 6 v 9-11 which says: -
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
He then continued to say: -
"You may want to complain about this, but this is the Word of God. God loves you and wants to forgive you."
So far, so normal.

In the context of a chapel service, a Bible passage is quoted on personal morality with the call to seek God's love and forgiveness.
However, on this occasion, some prisoners had come to the chapel cross-dressed as women, intending to disrupt proceedings. [It came as no surprise, last week, when we heard that 11 males in Littlehey Prison are waiting for sex change operations that will cost taxpayers £110,000].

A single complaint was put in by one of the prisoners to the Equality and Diversity officer of the prison saying that his human rights had been violated by the preaching. And yes, you can guess what happens next - the Prison Authorities can tolerate Barry mentioning 8 of the 9 sins listed in 1 Corinthians 6, but the classification of practising homosexuality as a 'sin' condemned by God is a step too far. Barry's words were insensitive to the "vulnerable class of persons" he was addressing! Barry's message of redemption and transformation; of the love and forgiveness of God was not enough to save him from the wrath and punishment of the prison authorities.

So, Barry was placed under intolerable strain at work, and lost his employment because he could not stand the pressure placed on him. We brought a claim for constructive dismissal. And so, we came before the Employment Tribunal and then the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

The Presiding Judge Mrs Justice Slade reflected in court that the prisoners were a"vulnerable class of citizens; a protected class of citizens" – she posed the question rhetorically as to whether 1 Corinthians 6 should be preached in a prison chapel service.
In her judgment, she accepted that some such people were vulnerable, suffered from low self-esteem and couldn't be criticised in this way. Mrs Justice Slade accepted that the Bible verses quoted were derogatory against homosexuals and that the preaching of this passage could 'legitimise bullying or other mistreatment'.

Many prisoners and sex offenders are saved and changed by the transforming power of the gospel. We had letters and testimony of lives that had been changed by the love and the witness of Barry.

The decision in Barry's case demonstrates the depth of hostility to Christianity in modern, post-Truth Britain and the spiritual blindness of the establishment elites. The decision not only defies law, logic, and common sense; it is a further forewarning about the voicing of Christian teaching on moral and sexual ethics. Unless the Church wakes up soon, it will conform to the new moral orthodoxy – witness the establishment of the Church of England and even the silence of many orthodox movements in our country.

Where does this leave the public witness of the gospel?
The State is interfering with the gospel. It is mandating that the gospel be shrunk down to fit society's sensibilities. The judgment implies that the Bible legitimises hate and mistreatment – but in reality, it offers salvation and transformation to men who have committed horrific crimes.

How long will the true Church stay silent in our land? What case is required to wake us up. How many more cases?
Will the true Church wake up when I am arrested? Probably not. The bishops of the Church of England are in no danger of being arrested.

Will the true Church wake up when a 'hate crime' is reported against a small, faithful evangelical church? Possibly not. How about a large one? Or a larger church network?

Can we not see, in this case and others, that this country no longer honours God, and is banning His Word! God calls preachers of the Word to correct, rebuke and instruct. Without this, there wouldn't be much to preaching at all!

The state, and by implication the courts, has a legal obligation not to interfere with church autonomy. This principle is so strong that it has been upheld three times in recent years by the Grand Chamber of the European Court.

Christian Concern was involved in 3 cases that went to the European Court of Human Rights known collectively as Eweida (British Airways Cross case) v United Kingdom. It was an important case on religious freedom. But in this case, a single Justice, Mrs Justice Slade, sitting alone in the Employment Appeals Tribunal, this week decided she did not need to follow Eweida v UK and could do a better job of interpreting church doctrine and acceptable preaching than an ordained Pentecostal Minister. This ruling has sinister implications for preachers across our country.

Looking at Barry's case in isolation, it is a sad day when an ordained minister can be punished by the State for preaching on sexual purity to a prison population housing many individuals who are there for sexual offences. Looking at Barry's case with a wider lens, it is indeed tragic and fearful for all preachers that one day, maybe soon, the state may also be coming for you.

It is not too late to wake up. We must carry on preaching and teaching 'the whole counsel of God'. We must not be afraid of what man can do to us. But we must also stand together to oppose this interference with the life-giving message of the Gospel. It is no good to support gospel preaching when it's easy but to back down when we come under pressure.

Saturday 19 August 2017

Our text begins in Matthew 15:21. Jesus has completed a very hectic ministry in the region of Galilee in the area of Capernaum. For Jesus He was nearing His end and to rest and teach His Apostles for future work. In verse 21 we find that Jesus has left the area of Galilee completely and withdrawn into the area of Tyre and Sidon, two places on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in what is now Lebanon. Tyre is about fifty miles south of modern Beirut, and Sidon was halfway between the two. He had gone there for peace and quiet whilst He taught His Apostles, who would carry His message when He had departed.

The cities were outside the boundaries of Israel, and the people were Gentiles. This was the only occasion when Jesus left Jewish territory, and had on His present journey crossed geographical, ethnic, gender and theological boundaries. Later it would mean removing barriers and enable the gospel to be taken to the whole world.

Today many people are anti-Israel and wish to separate from the Jews, but forget the specialness of Israel in the purposes of God. Jesus never implied anything different, but Paul was specially commissioned to bring Gentile and Jews on equal terms. Many of the wonders of technology which we all enjoy so much, were first discovered and developed in Israel, and given to the wider world in medicine, wireless communication, agriculture and much more.

In verse 22 we find a "Canaanite" woman turning from her idols to seek the Lord and crying out, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed." . This is a woman of Canaanite heritage. The Canaanites were ancestral enemies of Jesus. She has no heritage in understanding or even knowing God’s revelation in the Old Testament. She is not even in a place where she would be in regular contact with those who did. It is likely that she had heard of Jesus from those who were now passing through her land as miracle worker in the land of Israel, and now she finds that Jesus is in her area. She will go to Him and plead for His mercy which is further evidence that she does understand something of who Jesus is, for by definition, a person who asks for mercy, asks for something that they know that they do not deserve. She turns her back on the idols of her own culture and turned to Jesus.

She pleaded with Jesus to help her as her daughter had demon possession. Jesus turned His back on her, refusing to answer and His Apostles urged Jesus to chase her away. He then said to her, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel’. Whilst this was in contrast to Jesus’ last commission to His Apostles to go into the world and make disciples, at the time of this incident it was in the plan of God to focus on the Jews and their spiritual needs.

She then knelt before Jesus and begged Him to help her. His reply was that it would not be right to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs. She seems to accept the insult and Jesus’ judgement on her, but still pleaded and said even dogs eat the crumbs from the table In Palestine dogs were wild scavengers and Canaanites were referred to as such by the Jews who were ancestral enemies of each other. Jesus was testing her faith for it was His way to help all people and had in mind the domestic animals.

The woman was displaying greater faith in Jesus than many of His own people and Jesus responded by telling her faith was so great and granted her request with the result her daughter was healed.
She was persistent and such perseverance should be the mark of every Christian, but sadly it is not. Too often we give up when we do not receive a quick reply to our requests. We may even get discouraged thinking the Lord is no longer listening to us or is ignoring us as He was this woman.

What a beautiful example of the humility and faith, and what a contrast she was to the pride and unbelief of those Jesus had been with in Galilee. She responded in complete humility which is the way each of us should respond.

What can we learn from this story? This passage encourages us to keep praying even when the temptation is to give up. Be specific in your prayers and when praying for others name them before the Lord

An important element in prayer is faith, which unlocks the door to heaven. New life begins with faith and then we must build on that foundation. Often when we cry to God it is more in hope than faith. It is like a child who cries for something to eat but then goes on playing and you know it is not hungry. If he puts his play thing away and pulls at his mother’s clothes you know he is in earnest. God knows when we are in earnest.

The Bible states, if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God and it shall be given him, but let him ask in faith, not wavering. Faith is the key that unlocks the treasures of heaven The Bible states, whatever things you desire, believe you receive them and you shall have them,

Dwight Moody, an American evangelist second only to Billy Graham in the history of great preachers, asked at one of his meetings for all who wished to pray to become Christians to step forward. Amongst those who went forward was a woman, and Dwight felt by her demeanour she was already a Christian. He challenged her and asked why she went forward and she said it was for her son who had gone far away, so she thought she would take his place and see if God would bless him.
We have to thank God for mothers like that. The tragedy of our time is that there are few mothers, and certainly fathers, who are interested enough in the spiritual welfare of their children. A Jewish father
will devote much time teaching his sons the Commandments, just as a Muslim will teach his children the Koran, but too many men in this country feel it beneath their masculinity to be religious.

When my two sons were growing up I had to spend many hours away from home in my previous occupation, and my wife was forced to care, largely on her own; to her eternal credit both became youth leaders at our local Church and subsequently have become very successful Vicars.

The mother in this story showed how deep her faith was in Jesus, and her story will be told as long as this world exists. Such golden chains of faith link us to the throne of God. When we are in earnest God will respond, and we will be answered just as this woman was.

Saturday 12 August 2017

This morning I want to turn to Paul’s Letter to the Romans, in Chapter 10.

Paul was specially and uniquely called by God to be an Apostle to the Gentiles, but he never forgot his own Jewish people. This Letter was directed to the Jews who were carrying a mistaken belief, but its teaching is equally applicable to us, as all Paul’s Letters are.

Paul’s greatest desire was to make people Christians, a noble cause and one we could wish all preachers to-day to adopt. He was concerned the Jews were being misled to follow the wrong way to salvation, which can only be achieved by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord.

The Jews believed that all that was necessary for salvation was to keep the Ten Commandments, but no one can keep the Commandments for it is like a chain, if you break one link it all falls apart, and the Bible states if you break one you break the lot, and we have all, without exception broken at least one. Therefore one cannot be saved by the Commandments.

The word ‘saved’ does cause an emotional response with a lot of people, as it conjures up an image of being approached by a Charismatic Christian asking are you saved brother (sister).

I read of a man sitting in a theatre when someone came up and asked if the vacant seat next to him was saved, and he wittingly answered, ‘no, but I am’, at which the person moved away quickly.

God sent Jesus to supplant the Law and make it possible for all people to be saved if they accepted Christ as having died on the Cross to obtain forgiveness for the sins they committed.

Coming to the heart of this passage, verse 9 states, ‘if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved’.

Confession that Jesus is Lord, and singing the hymn, is not an intellectual title or a casual statement, it means much more. You have to believe fully in your heart this is so, and have no doubt that God raised Him physically from the dead; that is the heart of the Christian message. So when you do believe and are prepared to confess with your mouth, God accepts you as righteous.

The Bible states, ‘by grace you have been saved through faith, it is not your own doing, it is the gift of God and not by your own works.’

Something in us always wants to add to God’s free grace. It’s humbling to admit that we can do nothing to earn our deliverance from sin. Imagine what heaven would be like if we had to earn our way there. People would be trying to outbid each other and probably boasting how important they had been in the world.

When I was being inducted to a parish the Rural Dean who was a real traditional English gentleman (and there’s not many of us about), introduced me to a man who wanted me to know how important he was. Heaven would be just like that if you had to earn your way there. But it won’t be like that, when Jesus died on the cross, he paid the full price for your salvation. God alone gets the glory in your salvation. Jesus did all the work when he died on the cross.

I have been told countless times all one has to do is to be good, be kind and honest, and you will go to heaven; no need to go to Church, sing hymns and read the Bible. They will learn to regret this belief.

There was a series on television in which a young police constable is partnered on duty by an attractive young police woman who is fond of him, but he does not respond. His Sergeant tells him he should make a decision and respond, as one day he will regret not doing so; and then says The two saddest words in the English language are, if only.. There are so many people who will one day appear before the Lord and say, ‘if only’.

Jesus himself warned that on the Day of Judgment many will claim to have been His followers, but He will say to them, ‘depart from me. I never knew you.’ Millions have not the slightest idea of what it really meant to be a Christian.

People have been attending church for years, listening to the Bible being read, singing praise to the Lord, and have been very religious, yet have never come to the time when they have acknowledged Jesus as Lord, yet the Bible calls on us to do so.

We have admit to the fundamental fact that we live in an evil world and we all become tainted and lost, but by the grace of God He gives us an opportunity to come to Christ and be saved. The majority of people do not consider they need saving as they think their lives are already safe. The thought they are sinners is mortally wounding, as one Vicar discovered when he put a notice outside his church saying this Church is here for sinners; half his congregation were absent the next week. Sin is not just murder, theft and immorality; it includes pride, jealousy, envy, anger and hatred

Verse 11 states that all who believe in Jesus will not be put to shame, but there are too many Christians who are ashamed to admit they follow Jesus.

Verse12 reminds us that God has no favourites, and will accept all who call on Jesus. A question often asked is what about those who have never heard of Jesus. If someone is in such a remote place where the Bible has not been taught, they will be judged by how they responded to their conscience, for everyone has a sense of what is right and what is wrong. However, if it is a case of just not bothering to listen or find out, then the responsibility will be on them.

Behind the message, of course, is the messenger. The message has to be communicated and the way that God chooses is through the preaching of the Word and the praying of Christians, the yearning of their hearts over those who are not yet saved.

People are touched by God by various means, perhaps through a poster, a friend, an occurrence in one’s life, but the principal way is through the preaching of the Bible. This I believe is where we are failing badly, right across the Church. The Bible calls on us to preach the Word; in other words the Scriptures, with sound doctrine, not adding, subtracting or amending what God caused His writers to state in the Bible. Yet at this very pulpit I have twice heard it said by ordained Ministers that you shouldn’t take the bible literally. This in complete negation of ordination vows.

We in the Churches must make a greater effort to concentrate on the fundamentals of the faith. There is too much a willingness to amend Bible teaching to be popular, or ally with society’s standards and beliefs; avoid being called narrow minded or bigoted, and take every opportunity of doing so.

On Easter Sunday last year a service was held in one of our great Cathedrals, offering a wonderful opportunity of getting the message out, but instead there was a sermon which completely wasted the chance by an address on climate change which seems to obsess a lot of people.

Regularly Church leaders are eager to write to the press on a variety of matters social and political. A Bishop wrote asking for everybody to fast one day of the week in prayer for climate change; this at a time when the Church attendances are falling.

As people have a cause to believe in with an eternal future at issue, one might have thought that would have been a prime issue for him to concentrate his mind on.

There is however a marked reluctance to speak out on moral and ethical matters when the Church should be giving a lead to the country.

The Bible states that it is God who adds to the number of people attending a Church. In the book of Acts, He did so because the people were devoted to the teaching of the Apostles. Therefore, we should be sure that all preaching and teaching will be that given by the Apostles and left for our learning in the New Testament.

The glory of Christianity is that it has a message that is grounded in history. It is objective truth, not just something that someone has made up. . It is not some feeling that you are following that you hope will work out; it is the story of historic events. One of these events is the coming of Jesus as a baby in the manger of Bethlehem, the coming of the wise men from the east and the uproar and unrest that it caused in the kingdom of Judea, beginning with Herod the king himself. That is all part of history. Then there was the resurrection and the events that followed in the church. These are all historic events -- objective truth. That is our message.

There is an urgent need for such message to be preached without fear or favour, but I have been at Churches barely mentioning the basic facts of our faith. We have to be as forthright and determined to preach our faith as we see the preachers of Islam doing so in respect of their faith. You will never hear a Muslim cleric challenging anything in their Holy book.

Wednesday 9 August 2017

If you have kindly turned to this post, I beg you to read fully so as to understand just what is happening morally and unjustly in this country

This country was once an undivided Christian country; we exercised tolerance and were guided by the Bible for morality, spirituality, and general ways of behaving in society.

In recent times what is very much missing from our national life is tolerance. Tolerance has now come to mean if you disagree with what we say and want, you are intolerant. This attitude has been adopted by what is called ‘the gay community’. People cannot express their disapproval and to do so is to leave one open to prosecution for a hate crime. This a legacy of the David Cameron time as Prime Minister after he lied prior to the election qwhen he said he had not intention of granting same sex marriage.

The situation has been taken advantage of and we now have the unbelievable and incredulous proposal to allow a man to declare himself a woman on a whim. Where is the aggressive female lobby now; so far there has been no word.?

Our entertainment is littered with scenes mocking the Church for its stance of being able to opt out of performing such ceremonies, and now member of the government are suggesting this concession should be stopped. Vociferous in this is the Education Secretary who also holds the position of equalities Minister and who has declared herself as ‘gay’ and in relationship with an activist. This is when the country which one held a high place on the world’s education ratings, under her ministry we are 18th. As commentators have remarked she should look at her priorities. Regrettably the Prime Minister who is the daughter of a Vicar (now deceased) has expressed a similar view. I thought once we had got rid of Cameron things would visibly improve, but that has been wishful thinking.

Please look at a small list of examples of injustice which follows

Richard Paige was dismissed from the Magistracy and later the NHS, for expressing during an adoption case that whenever possible, it was in the best interests of a child to be placed with a mother and father. Commenting on the hearing, Richard said: "My desire to do the best for the child has been the paramount consideration throughout my time as a magistrate on the family panel. Yet by living out this belief, I have been drawn into a much bigger battle about my freedom, and the freedom of Christians more broadly, to express Biblical truth in the public square

Barry Trayhorn, was a prison chaplain who was forced to resign after receiving a hostile response when he spoke in a chapel service on 1 Corinthians 6, He lost his appeal against an Employment Tribunal ruling, that he was not discriminated against because of his Christian faith It was ruled he should not have quoted that verse from the Bible. Barry's case sets a dangerous precedent for the freedom to preach from the Bible. This prison holds criminal men, who whilst having the rights of all people, are not likely to be over sensitive to a Bible verse.

Aisling Hubert, was punished for seeking justice for preborn baby girls, She attempted to bring a private prosecution against doctors to stop abortions based on gender. The Public Prosecution Service prevented her case proceeding and declined to do so themselves.

Victoria Wasteney, was suspended and disciplined for sharing the gospel with a Muslim colleague she believed to be a friend, who in fact sought Victoria’s advice and offered no objection at the time.

he National Trust has banned all volunteers at one of its properties from meeting and greeting guests unless they wear an LGBT symbol. Senior staff at Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk wrote to volunteers asking them to wear a 'rainbow' lanyard or badge. So far, at least ten volunteers have resisted pressure to wear the symbol and have been relegated to backroom chores. One volunteer said that it was "abhorrent" for the National Trust to act in this way. Due to the national outcry that order has now been rescinded.

Eleven inmates at Littlehey Prison - a prison for sex offenders - are waiting for 'sex change' operationsthat are to be funded on the NHS, costing the taxpayer £110,000. I have no doubt this will be granted, whilst some cancer patients, notably women, have been denied life enhancing drugs on the grounds of ‘costs’.

Felix Ngole is a Christian student who has been removed from his university social work course after he made comments on his personal Facebook page in support of biblical teaching on marriage and sexual ethics. Felix was told that, by posting his comments on Facebook, he "may have caused offence to some individuals" and had "transgressed boundaries which are not deemed appropriate for someone entering the Social Work profession."

Gary McFarlane, a relationship counsellor from Bristol, was dismissed for gross misconduct by Relate after he refused to confirm that he would provide directive sex therapy to homosexual couples due to his religious beliefs. Mr McFarlane had never refused to provide sex therapy to a ‘live couple’ but had told his managers that if the issue arose he would discuss it with them. The Employment Tribunal held that he had not been discriminated against on the basis of his faith. His case will now be heard by the European Court of Human Rights.

Mike Overed, together with another street preacher, Michael Stockwell, has been convicted of a 'religiously aggravated' public order offence, following their arrest in July 2016. He and his friends had been preaching in a Bristol shopping area and responding to questions, objections and abuse. They had been using the King James Version of the Bible and the prosecutor told the court some of the statements made by the preachers may have been in the King James Bible, translated in 1611, but that did not mean they were acceptable in 2016. The Appeal Court fortunately took a different view and the fines of £2000 each and the conviction was quashed

23 CofE members including Dr. Gavin Ashenden, Andrea Williams and Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, have published an open letter in the Telegraph warning of a possible CofE split following "recent actions in the General Synod in pursuit of a culture that denies biblical ethics." It concludes by raising the prospect of a split. Dr. Ashenden told the Telegraph that the Archbishop risks a "revolt in the form of an independence movement", unless he upholds biblical teaching. This occurred when Andrea Williams, who as Chief Executive of Christian Concern the legal defence team for Christians, proposed a motion at Synod calling for society’s ethics to be based on bible teaching. The Arch bishop of York followed and called for Andrea’s motion to be defeated and all the sycophants impressed by an Archbishop, who incidentally was supported by the Arch bishop of Canterbury.

A parochial church council (PCC) has called on the Archbishop of York to repent, following his rejection of Scripture at Synod earlier this month. In a statement, the PCC of St John, Newland, (Diocese of York) said it has "been grieved" by the "appalling manner in which those who hold to the teachings of Jesus have been ridiculed, mocked and scorned,"

In addition to Churches in Canada and America, the Scottish Episcopal Church has now performed a same sex marriage in a Church in Edinburgh . In view of its limited size there would normally be little notice taken of any decision it made, but now it will benefit from couples going there from England , where despite pressure from some bishops and clergy, such action against bible teaching has not been allowed.

Saturday 5 August 2017

1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
Its is truly a pleasure to be back here to join you in worship, I always look forward to seeing you all. I come today in two guises; one as a Circuit preacher, and also as a member and speaker for the Bible society. At the back of the Church there is a stand with some Bible Society magazines which you can take if you so wish, there is no charge, they are given free, if you wish to make a donation to the Society then that is appreciated but without any obligation.

Most thinking people will rightly wonder what the future holds for this country. At present half of the nation wants to be free from the bondage of Europe and the other half do not. This division is also played out on the political scene. We have a Prime Minister unsure of herself and her cabinet where there is more interest in personal ambition than national concern, and the main opposition party has revealed its word cannot be trusted as it is now disclosed that they lied greatly in the recent election; such is the integrity of modern day politicians

As Christians we have to be also concerned that there is massive division within the Church, where at the highest level of Office there are those more concerned with pushing so called ‘gay rights’ than what they are, by virtue of their position, called to preach, and those who see a more urgent agenda to win souls for Christ.

This was a Christian nation, and the Bible was an important and influential part of life. Our politicians were largely Church members and respected the teaching of Scripture; now that has all gone, and whilst the Church was perhaps not over evangelical, it would never have contemplated introducing services to accommodate people who wished to follow a way of life contrary to the teaching of the Bible.

In today’s Epistle, Paul was writing to a Church which was newly gathered and were facing strong opposition, as those of us who are today as we try to be faithful to the Word of God. The Jews hated the gospel and tried to hinder the preaching of it to the Gentiles. It is one thing to oppose oneself, but to try and dissuade others is wicked. This is one of the most serious sins man can commit against God, and it is happening now; the secularist agenda is to wipe Christianity out of the public arena. They seek every means to obstruct and find grounds to complain of offences committed by Christians.

If people wish to oppose our faith, that is a matter for them, God gave us all free will, nor is it phobic to state what one reads in the Bible. If a person wishes to act illegally or immorally then they must be prepared to face the consequences, and we are entitled to tell them. A preacher’s task is to tell people what they need to hear rather than what they prefer to hear. I can’t imagine any responsible preacher setting out to purposely offend anyone.

I have to friends who are in a same sex relationship and we meet socially and enjoy doing so. I expect they know my views, I suspect they may have peeped at my internet writings, but it is not for me to judge them or others, but it is my duty to preach what the Bible says.
In other words, what God has said, and He alone will be all our judge.

A very prominent pastor in the United States was once asked by a presenter on a chat show, what his opinion was regarding a moral question. He wisely stated, ‘as a pastor I do not have an opinion. If the Bible states something is wrong, I say it is wrong, but that does not mean I love you any less as a person’.

Christian Concern, a legal defence team are defending and supporting many people in the Courts of our land from people who will not allow us to express an opinion; tolerance to them is you believe what we believe, and there are no absolutes allowed, all is relative where one sets their own belief and action. And it goes on in the Church; Ministers are living lives which directly are opposed to the Bible,which is why the Church is falling apart, God builds the Church, and will not bless and support where there is flagrant abuse of His teaching, especially by those who ought to know and act better.

Paul thanks God that the Thessalonian Christians had not only welcomed God’s Word,. but had taken it into their lives; they realised the power of that Word. There is really only one issue at stake. Is the Bible the Word of God and will we insist that our ministers preach the divine inspiration of the Bible? Everything else is secondary.

This is the hearing of the heart. There is a difference because it’s very possible to come to Church and listen to a sermon and then dismiss what you hear; happily I think most people do try to let it have an effect

In saying all of this, I point out that our heritage lies with those who believe the Bible. Much has changed. I’m sure that John and Charles Wesley would hardly recognize our church today. They knew nothing about computers, or any modern technology. But one thing would please them; there are still some of us who believe the Bible as faithfully as they did.

That’s why the debate over the nature of the Bible is so crucial. If the Bible is the word of God, then it is utterly and completely authoritative, and if it is faithfully preached, what the preacher states is what God has said; he/she is speaking for God. If the Bible is the word of God, it is utterly exclusive in its claims. It does not ask or seek for our approval, and it does not need or allow any subtraction, addition or amendment. God never asks us to correct the New Testament. The Bible stands approved as read.

Verse 14 warns that once you declare yourself a Christian, and then emphasise by saying you believe the Bible is fundamental to your life, you will find you are not as popular as you were amongst your friends and even in some cases family as well. I once had a lady who was told by her husband she had to make a choice, the Church or him, one had to go. Young people now find this a problem with parents.Being a Bible believing Christian means accepting the opposition it brings.

In verses 15/16. Paul turns to the function of ministry, how pastors have the responsibility to both their Church and the people within them. They are called to define clearly the gospel coming from God in unshakable conviction, and realising their commitment to proclaim it; there is no room for doubts. Church leaders making changes to Scripture to be more pleasing to society, which is contrary to the solemn vows they made at ordination to guard and teach the gospel as it was written, and some preach with reluctance and diffidence, which is a disgrace to the Church and offensive to God.

Verse 16 tells us two things about God’s judgment. There is a limit, a line, and a point of no return for each person. If a person wishes to go on offending God they must realise that whilst God is a patient and forgiving God, and a God of love, He is also a God of wrath for those who deliberately challenge Him.

Coming back to politicians, they need to be reminded God passes judgment on any society that rejects his Word. Western nations have turned their backs on God and we are seeing some of he consequences. People may mock those of us who speak of God’s judgement, but look at the mess here in Britain and the United States. Our nations had two disastrous leaders in Cameron and Obama who not only redefined God’s teaching of marriage, but the same men tried to impose on other nations. If you believe the Bible, you must accept its judgment on society.

Some years ago there was a well known man appointed as a bishop who upset many believers by mocking the resurrection story and Virgin birth, the rock of our faith. When the time came for him to be consecrate at York Minster one evening, there was a flash of lightning struck the Church blowing the roof off. There was no record of lightning in any other place close to the Minster, just that one spot and people say they did not hear thunder. A lot of people believed God was answering, but others just laughed at the suggestion of God being involved. The Archbishop of York at the time was quite offensive in response to the suggestion saying God would not do such a thing. He obviously did not know his bible well enough or would have known it says, 'See how God spreads His lightning around.' (Job 30 v 36)It was an amazing coincidence, almost beyond belief, if it was a coincidence. Why do people think God is unable or unwilling to make Himself known?

Above all, let us as Believers not drift away from our spiritual moorings, like some who let them get carried away by every wind of public opinion. We do not need public opinion to tell us what to believe, God has already told us. We must be like Martin Luther, whose 500th anniversary we celebrate in October and say. ‘Here we stand. We can do no other’; even when it will not find favour with those unbelievers around us.

Never be afraid to make your Christian belief known. This does not mean you have to go to excesses, just to let it be known you attend your Church.

We have as a Church the great message that no only we can tell, and we should not avoid doing so. That God in His great mercy and grace sent Jesus to lead people to salvation, and died on the Cross so that all who believe in Him and accept Him as Lord and Saviour will have their sins forgiven and be fit to live eternally with Him in heaven.

We are not as fortunate as the United States where they have wonderful large Churches with outstanding ministries which reach out across the world, but there are preachers around this country in various Churches who are getting that message out, may God bless them and their ministry. The Chief Executive of Christian Concern, who is a barrister and a member of the Church of England Synod,is an oustanding Christian speaker, whose gift is far too limited; certainly the most inspiring and devotional one I have heard. And she is not a Reverend, or Very Reverend or Right/Most Reverend, just Andrea Williams.

In the absence of any personality on the Christian scene at national level in the Church, each local Church must be its own evangelical witness. I pray that this lovely Church here will do so and stand out as a beacon love and hope to all who pass and live by.