Saturday 31 October 2020


The Letter of Jude

I want to turn with you to the smallest book of the Bible, the Letter of Jude.

This week the Church remembered Jude on a midweek day, he being a leader in the early Church, and was the half-brother of Jesus. He does not seem to qualify to be included in the Sunday Lectionary, no doubt as he wants to abolish teaching which is not according to the Bible.  

This Letter is seldom preached upon.  It is loathed by the liberal establishment, nor does it lie easily with the political correctness of today’s society.   The only time I have heard it preached. was by an old Scottish Minister on Stornoway.  It is probably the most unpopular Letter in the New Testament, and it seems so wrong that it should be so neglected, but it is an anathema to the politically correct elite who dominate our society, as it deals with absolutes and does not support the loose morality which exists. 

It is a call to arms for the Christian Church, and it should be a matter of concern that this Letter is so neglected.  However, militant Christianity is not popular in the Church at the present generally. It should be accepted that this Letter, whilst written so many years ago has been included in the Scriptures, and therefore its message is valid and indeed relevant for us today.

Having described who he is, Jude tells that he started to write a letter about understanding the faith, when news reached him of an outbreak of false teaching being given by men who had crept into the Church professing to be Christians, but were changing the grace of God into a licence for immoral living ,preaching false doctrine and advocating a gospel which fitted within their desires and approach.  They taught that the grace of God would forgive any sin. Jude saw a dishonouring of Christ, which led to a deceiving of souls.  This is why it is so relevant for us today, for we have to face an identical situation.

The church of Jesus Christ is under severe attack in a manner not previously seen, due to modern technology. Forces are striking from the outside, seeking to undermine our existence, but more insidious , as we in recent times have shamefully watched men/women holding high Office in the Church betraying God’s Word.  How prophetic it was of Jude.

The Bible states, ‘some from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following.’  But  God in his amazing grace will support those who remain faithful to Him, even when in adversity.

Today, when all the great fundamental truths of the Christian Faith are being denied, from within the Church, it makes verse 3 of this Letter so vitally important. I appeal to you to earnestly contend for  the faith that was once delivered unto the saints.’  It is in fact a call to arms for Christians and the Church, especially in Western countries, and it should be a matter of concern that this Letter is so neglected.

Jude wrote this Letter out of a sense of urgency and necessity, declaring that every Christian should contend for the faith. By faith it is meant the gospel, that body of truths that make up the exclusive Christian gospel.

What Jude is saying is ‘wake up Church it is time to get back to the gospel that was once given’.

The unique birth of Jesus; His coming to perform the work God set for Him, working miracles of healing; but primarily to pay the price for the redemption of all sinners, by giving His life up dying a cruel death on the Cross. His resurrection and ascension; His giving of the Holy Spirit and continued intercession for us in heaven. Such is our message.

 This had been given to the Church by the Apostles, who had been taught and instructed by Jesus to pass on, it was once given to remain so for all time.    

This tells us our faith is not that which someone has made up, but rather comes from God.  Furthermore, it was given with the understanding that nothing needs to be added, amended or subtracted from.  Anyone who does so is a false teacher.   Jude indicates that God will not ignore false teaching, and later in the Letter points out the judgement God passes on such people. 

For many hundreds of years this country has been Christian. During this time Christians

have played a major role in the abolition of slavery, the development of hospitals and education, and Methodist Christians were prominent in the formation of trades unions and workers rights, and generally the Church has been a force for good.   

In two world wars men/women fought and gave their lives, to preserve the country’s Christian heritage and freedom to worship and speak. 

This is why all Christians should contend for our faith with the same intensity that other faiths do. To be loyal to God and Jesus, and not to betray all the men and women who died or were seriously wounded, fighting to preserve our Christian heritage.

I once received a letter from a war veteran who said she was attacked for being ‘old fashioned’ just because she held Christian beliefs. I don’t believe she is old fashioned.

As I look at society today, it does not appear as if the new and current fashion is anything to boast about. The main purpose is for people to have no responsibility, just be allowed to have what they want, when they want it. Pope Benedict made an understatement when he said we are becoming a secularised society. 

All Christians should be most concerned at the way things are going.  The position is serious, and if Christianity is pushed out, the spiritual vacuum will be filled by something which might be quite unpleasant. 

There are preachers one hears and you wonder why they bother.  What point is there in preaching if you don’t mention the Cross, the teaching of Jesus, the requirement to acknowledge the authority of revealed Scripture?

What's at stake here is the central Christian message, which the Church must preach. It is the duty and responsibility of the Church to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is written.  God chose forty men and used their distinctive personalities to write what He inspired them to write and that is what Christians should live by. It is God’s Word and we have to defend and guard it.

There are others who teach that the gospel can be revised and re-interpreted to meet today’s culture, as if God was only for first century Christians.

The Christian message is that all people have rebelled against God and tried to reject Him.  It is felt we can do a better job ourselves and say to God, ' I want to run my life my own way.'  We deserve God's judgement for that, but God in His mercy doesn't want it to come to that. He wants us to be forgiven and change our ways and let him have His rightful place in our lives. That is why Jesus was sent to redeem us by dying on the cross in our place - taking the judgement we deserve so we could be forgiven. That is the Bible’s message.

False teachers want to completely change the Church’s teaching, so that all religions are equal, all sexual relationships are acceptable and equal

 The Bible is unequivocal that God loves all people, but is also clear that God saw marriage as the bedrock of society; 

that men and women are equal in His sight but have 

different roles in life, and Jesus is the only Saviour.

 This is what makes evangelism so hard. People seeking spiritually look at such wrangling, and understandably say, ‘if the Church itself cannot agree on such matters, how can it teach us?’  

So we have a Church struggling with false teaching within, against a world which refused to accept Jesus Christ and His teaching.

It is hard to quote the Bible without someone saying ‘Oh you shouldn’t say that.’  The Bible states, ‘salvation is found in no other name under heaven except Jesus Christ’. 

The Bible states’ Jesus said no one can come to the Father except through me’, yet many preachers are dodging quoting this.  If we avoid telling these verses how are people ever to come to know the gospel.

Have you ever heard a Muslim cleric deny or challenge any words in the Koran?  They show the kind of total commitment our clerics should be showing to our Holy Book.

One of the biggest problems the Church faces is apathy, which is why Christianity has fallen to such low level, and why morality is so poor.  It is so easy in the times we live in to opt out, saying, ‘there is no point in fighting them.’  Can you imagine what would have happened if Winston Churchill had have said in 1940, ‘there is no use in us fighting, the enemy is too powerful.’  (Wir wurden alle Deutsch sprechen)

Let us remember there are Christians being persecuted in non-Christian lands with violence, arson, and yes even murder.  Hundreds have been killed in the last few months in Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia and Nigeria.  Whole villages ransacked, yet they valiantly fight on for their Lord and Saviour.  How pathetic if we let some vociferous secularists silence us.  

We need to be contending for the faith, especially to any non- believers in our families, and challenging those who mock.  Can you imagine the outcome if Islam was abused in the same way as Christianity.

The country is in spiritual death throes and in need of intensive care.  This is why we must contend for the faith.  How God must weep when He sees the Church singing His praise, pretending to be holy, whilst countenancing and failing to speak out on moral issues and totally ignoring His written Word.

Idealistic people say we just have to do our own thing; God will provide and look after His Church.  God will indeed provide and care for His Church, but He requires His people to do their part.

My friends, it is the duty of the Church to teach the gospel and not to budge from it.  We are not to be superficial believers. Hold fast to the gospel once given by the Apostles who were taught by the Master Himself.  Today people are being drawn away from the doctrines of the Bible as judgement is becoming a censored word.

When we study and keep the Word we are keeping apostolic teaching delivered to the first Christian Church.  We cannot stand fast unless we hold fast the traditions.  When any Church forsakes apostolic teaching it will fall into error and weakness will ensue.

Living by God’s standards makes a nation great, but disgrace comes to those who ignore God’s truth.” We as a nation have forgotten God and turned away from his Word.

Billy Graham used to say,  “If God doesn’t judge America and Britain, he’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.’


Saturday 24 October 2020

Nehemiah 8 ,v.1 to 4,  8 to 12  BIBLE SUNDAY

This morning is the day the Church celebrates God giving us the Bible.                                                                                    I want to turn with you to the reading from the Book of Nehemiah.

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 and after 70 years were returning to Jerusalem, their spiritual homeland and capital then in ruins, to rebuild their lives and homes. 

The walls of the city had been destroyed and needed to be rebuilt been created.  Nehemiah realised that a nation needs more than material works and wealth, there was a need for a firm spiritual and moral foundation as well as wealth and material things.

Ezra the priest was present and preached the Scriptures to them.   In what is perhaps a new passage of Scripture for you, we have a glorious story of a people who gathered without coercion, devoting themselves to standing for something like five/six hours.

This indicates the tremendous desire of these people for truth. No complaining there if the service went over the hour! Some times when I first visit a Church I ask the Vicar/Minister for guidance as to how long I am expected to preach, and often told well after ten minutes people will begin to shuffle their feet.  (Not so bad in the Free Churches.)

Notice also that the place where they met was by the Water Gate, the seventh gate, a prominent number to the Jews, a number meaning 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.

What a marvellous 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!

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. How careful it was made clear what the meaning of Scripture was.

We so desperately need to tell in simple terms how he loves us, wants us to be saved, and for that purpose he sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world to show us by word and example how that becomes possible when we obey all that he tells us in that holy book we call the Bible. There are Church members who live knowingly and deliberately against God’s teaching, yet hypocritically carry on doing so. How God must weep when sees people singing hymns of praise in Church, listening to the Bible, (sometimes even preaching it) and then behaving totally in contradiction to what he has laid down.

When the Bible is faithfully preached as it is written, it points out the way are going astray, how far we have wandered from the pureness of Christ in thought word and deeds. God tells us what is wrong in our lives, and corrects us when we do wrong and teaches us what is right. How we all sin most often by mistake or carelessness, and God provided a way of forgiveness in letting Jesus die a cruel death on the Cross so that all who accept Jesus death was for their sins, would be forgiven.  The whole Bible is about God’s offer of salvation through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.

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. The great tragedy of our day is how few churches seem to understand this power of Scripture. 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.’ The Church was founded on the teaching of the Apostles and such was authoritative because it came from our Lord Himself, who claimed he was the only way to God. We should not be afraid to state this, for the Bible states ‘we do not have a spirit of timidity, we have the power of God’

It is fair to say Britain is in moral decline. It is like a car parked on a hill when someone releases the brake and it careers downward.  There is so much evil in society, even listening to news broadcasts creates fear. Murder was for so long a rare and major crime, now it is a daily occurrence hardly worthy of more than a passing paragraph in a newspaper. Fraud, theft, corruption stems from top of society to the bottom. 

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 -- 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.  All the time honoured beliefs of morality and ethics have been abandoned so that nothing is considered immoral or improper by society. What is most alarming is that no one in authority seems to be concerned.

We have allowed secularists, atheists and activists for LGBT lobby to influence society and take over the country, in the process they are trying to silence us and forcing us not only to accept, but approve all they call for. People are free to live as they wish, God gave us free will, but all must be able to express an opinion without being threatened, and to state what the Bible says.

The Church, which is meant to be the conscience of the nation, has in the mainline denominations, conversely called to abandon biblical teaching to meet society’s culture.  Scripture reveals that as individuals, we have turned our backs on God's ways, and ignored his teaching. We have failed the young people who see an institution created by God for the purpose of providing spiritual and moral guidance, failing to point out what are clearly called sins in the Bible, and either incapable or unwilling to offer better. 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-and the lowest Church attendance, we knew what being a Christian meant.

 The Bible comes to us from God, written over a period of thousands of years, consisting of 66 books, written by a wide variety of authors, each with different characters and occupations, living at different times over the years, most of them not knowing others yet what they wrote was never in contradiction, and was all as God wanted. The most sophisticated computer could not have composed such perfect harmony; the only explanation is the Holy Spirit was the guide and one dictating. The wonder of the Bible is all the writers declare they were writing under God’s inspiration.

Most of the men who wrote the Bible were simple fishermen, shepherds and the like, without a degree amongst them, and were moved by the Spirit of God. If they went before a selection committee for Church ministry, I doubt they would have been chosen.

That may seem hard or even cynical, but it is not meant to be, I say it seriously and being realistic. The teaching of the Apostles would be too fundamental for selectors to accept, for Christian orthodoxy has now been replaced by equality and diversity consideration.  I can say with confidence, preferment in the Church of England is dependent upon accepting not the Bible’s moral and ethical teaching, more on the calls of society’s activists.

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. Yet a Court in Bristol said it contained words which a criminal offence and fined street preachers for using it.

Men and women have given their lives to take the Bible to the utmost parts of the earth and to live in primitive conditions.  Most could have earned an enormous amount more money with comfortable lives, but chose to serve the Lord. They were mostly well educated and learned people with brilliant minds, who God will richly reward.

It was once custom to have bible in pews and members could follow the readings for themselves as they were being read out, and follow as the sermon was preached. Most Churches had a Bible study class meeting , which is now a rare meeting.

If the churches of this land were faithful to the Bible preaching what it was saying, without amendments, do you think the nation would be in the condition that it is today?  Never has the Bible been more needed than now. 

Monday 19 October 2020

2 Timothy 4 v 5/8   (October 18th)

Today is the day the Church celebrates St. Luke, the writer of the third gospel, and the only non- Jewish contributor to the Bible.

The Bible reading for this day is Paul’s Letter to Timothy.  Paul is imprisoned in Rome on false charges, levelled against him by the Jewish Church leaders, and he knows his death is imminent. He is at the end of his life and he wants his devoted service to be continued, and he has chosen Timothy as the one to carry on, so he writes offering guidance and words of encouragement.

He wanted stability, and such can only happen when the Ministry of the Church is faithfully committed to following the Holy commands of Jesus.  Paul was committed to preaching the Word of God as it was given to the men God chose to write.

In this passage Paul begins by warning Timothy that there will be those who will not accept the true teaching, but will be driven by their desire to go their own way and make their own choices.

He calls on Timothy to be an evangelist, that is to proclaim the gospel especially to those who do not know it’s message.  He wants Timothy to keep a clear mind, and never be afraid of suffering, as it will inevitably come to all who are preaching the good news of the Lord.

He calls on Timothy to remain calm and steady, not to fall for anything sensational, and to keep to the truth and not engage in myths.

Paul the turns to his own condition, seeing his life has been like a sacrificial drink offering. In other words, he is forecasting the end of his life which he laid down for the good of the gospel, and is now bound for execution and entry to eternal salvation. God is calling him home, which makes it so important to guide and advise Timothy.

He has fought a good fight against evil, false teaching, and served Jesus devotedly planting numerous Churches in different lands over which he cared and nurtured. He uses the image of an athlete who has successfully run a race and has reached the finishing line, he having completed  all that God sent him to do. He now he claims the prize promised to him by God, through earning by the price paid by Jesus. and which is also for all who remain faithful and set their hearts on the return of Jesus.

Paul ends the Letter by mentioning three men who had been with him I  ministry. First there is Demas who abandoned Paul to follow the ways of the world; then Mark, who though he had once forsaken Paul on a mission, had redeemed himself by having committed himself effectively on later missions.

A special tribute is paid to Luke, who is our special interest today. Luke had been a constant companion, most faithfully accompanying Paul in all his work and service for Christ; he was number two to Paul who depended on him. Like Paul, Luke was a cultured man with a good education. He was in fact a doctor, which is why many medical buildings are called St Luke’s

 Luke meticulously recorded the events and travels, which we find listed in Acts of the Apostles.

The above is the explanation of the passage, we now have to consider what we can learn from it.

There is a call to all Christians, lay or ordained, to make the true gospel known to those who do not know. There is no need for theological training, a simple few words, or even just telling of your Church attendance.

There is a very great need for stability in the Church, for all to speak with one voice rather than the cacophony of words coming from people at the head of Churches, who are favourites with the media, because of their controversial views.

How often have you ever heard a Muslim cleric contradict their Holy Book or faith; I suggest never. We should never betray our faith by denying the teaching of our Holy Bible, as too many in high Office delight in doing. I watch them putting themselves forward as stalwarts of the faith, yet the words are hypocritical and not practiced in life. It is a sad fact that the Western Church has in many places become decadent.

Every new fashion and whim of society is adopted, rather than following Paul who called for protection of the gospel without timidity, proclaiming as God directed. 

There are now so many versions of the gospel being put forward, we have lost our sense of direction. We are like people lost in darkness with no light to guide us as we lose sight of the pure light of Christ.

Jesus laid down a course of guidance for us to follow, and when we digress we come to grief for there is nothing left to hold on to. We are like people walking along a small path on a mountain top, who when we wander from the straight laid down way we are safe, but we stray and fall away. This has happened to so many of our friends with whom we once shared worship, but who fell away, and some who we pushed off.

We are not told a lot about Luke in the Bible, other than he was the only non- Jew contributor and was a doctor, and yet he merges as the fondest. He was with Paul on his last mission and when Paul was in prison.

When Paul writes in Acts he refers frequently to ‘we’ and it can be reliably concluded he was referring to himself and Luke. The Romans sometimes allowed a person being removed to prison to be accompanied by a friend, which accounts for further praise for Luke.

 Luke is described in Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, as the beloved physician, and he owed much to Luke who cared for him and nursed him after the beatings, and consoled him about the thorn in his flesh.  Luke may not have been a great evangelist or preacher, but gave much personal care, giving much back to God, for the gifts God had given him.

 Kindness humility and dedication are not the virtues we find in many people, especially in our age when people’s principle concerns are themselves.  Many people are proud of their knowledge and all the degrees they have and what  eloquent speeches they can make, but ironically the qualities that strikes at other people’s hearts, are just plain common sense and personal care.

 Having worked in public life in two widely different careers, I fall for the man or woman who talk in plain basic words, conveying interest in others, with kindness and love in their hearts. Degrees are good to have, but in the way of life are not always as helpful. I once had to choose who to take on under my supervision,  an ex plumber, or a man with a degree in zoology, it was not a difficult choice to make.

Paul writing to Philemon called Luke a fellow labourer, ready to get on with whatever was needed, but always as a doctor he could much for his fellowmen.

 The Church has many men and women who can properly claim academic brilliance; many who can talk fluently, but unfortunately have never  lived in the real world, and by not doing so have impractical ideas concerning practical issues, which are not  the way ‘ordinary’ people think. Hence we have come to live in a politically correct society, polluted by thought police, where what one says is often thought to be more criminal than true crime.

Faithfulness is a quality I have found to be in short supply these days.  I have worked for many years in  daily contact with people. I can say rationally, I have come to the conclusion there are very few people, comparatively speaking , even within the Church, who one can say with confidence, will remain true to the end.

Luke sets a wonderful example for all. Faithful, reliable, dependable, true to the end. May we pledge to follow his example on this Luke day and every day.

Saturday 10 October 2020


Matthew 22v 1/14

The gospel passage comes from the 22nd Chapter of Matthew’s gospel and is the parable of the wedding feast.  This is one of a series of parables our Lord is delivering in which He exposes the failures of the chief priests and leaders of Israel, and rebukes them for allowing the people to ignore Him as the Messiah, and their general disobedience to God.

     If Jesus was here to day He would most certainly be rebuking the chief priests of the Church as they let the Church drift away from its moorings of the Bible, to sail off into the muddy waters of society, and to allow and make provision to embrace and accept behaviour which is incompatible with Scripture, and for acceptance to the Kingdom of God.

     There is a picture of a king who wants to give a feast for the marriage of his son, and such a feast would traditionally last for days.  In accordance with Jewish tradition invitations would be sent out to the proposed guests without any set time the being stated, but when the food and preparations were complete, servants would be sent out to say all was ready and for them to attend.

     At first guests were making excuses, which were received badly by   the King for it would be considered insulting, and when further servants went out they were brutally treated and even murdered.  The king was furious and sent his army to kill the murderers and burn their city.

     The king decided the feast would not fail, and ordered his men to go out and bring all outsiders to the table.  One man was seen not wearing a wedding garment and so upset the king who had him bound and thrown out.

     The meaning is the king represents God; the son is Jesus; the servants are the prophets and John the Baptist; and the outsiders are the Gentiles.  The feast is for the coming of Jesus into the world, and likened to the gospel story of salvation.  Like all the teachings of Jesus, there is an enduring lesson for each age, no less than our time.

     The Bible throughout reveals that God chose Israel out of all nations to be His specially chosen one; God has also given advantages and blessings to other nations, which Jesus indicated would happen in the parable.  He said the hand of God which was first intended for the Jew would be extended and given to both Jews and Gentiles.

     What is a matter of concern for Christians is that there are far too many men, and now women, holding office in the Church, some in high places who want to re-interpret the Bible to fit in with modern populist thought.  Let us be honest, there are not just a few within the Church, whose style of life will not be accepted by Jesus the supreme judge, and it is particularly unacceptable for clergy who are here to preach the gospel, to be unworthy.  They are acting like the chief priests who Jesus is here condemning for disobeying God by not following His teaching, and will have to answer for so doing.

     We can’t just be holy on Sundays and revert to any lifestyle we choose for the rest of the week.

     There are plenty of people who have little time for Christianity, their own lives are too important to them to be involved with the Church.  Others are openly hostile and only mention the name of Jesus as an expletive.  Christianity is not the gloomy faith that is often painted by many who fear they will lose too much pleasure if they become Christians.    

     This parable tells us all are invited to the feast, but many people are so concerned for their present life they are losing the chance of eternal life.  In all His teaching Jesus made it clear this life is a preparation for an after life. He never avoided pointing out this meant there were two alternative places heaven or hell.  People say God would never send anyone to hell, and that is true He lets us make the decision by how we live our life now.

     We are reminded that the appeal of Christ to us is not so much to consider how we will be punished if we challenge God, who expressed His way, but how much we will lose if we don’t follow His teaching.  Those who did not go to the wedding were punished but their real tragedy was they lost the joy of the feast. 

     We are being offered the chance to be taken into the presence of God, and be given a place in heaven.  If we do not follow Christ some day our greatest pain will be in the realisation of the precious things of which we have denied ourselves by doing our own thing.  In the last analysis, God’s invitation to us is of His amazing grace.

     God is still offering a place in heaven to all who will seek His Son. There is no charge, which has already been paid by Jesus when He died on the Cross to cleanse us of all sin, and by that cruel death, made it possible for us to be accepted by God.  We do have to put our faith and trust in Jesus, and realise there is no other way to God except through Him.

     God is making it all so easy by providing all we need. The Son has put us right with God and the Father will pardon and receive us. In addition He has given us written guidance for our lives by providing the Bible which will set out His plan.

     All false religion will one day be exposed. God sees into our hearts and just as the king threw out the man at the wedding for being improperly dressed, so God will not enter unto His kingdom those who ignored Him in this life.

     The second part of the reading puzzles many people; why was the man so roughly treated as to justify being thrown out. 

      Jesus is portraying the Gentiles being gathered in together with sinners.   Whilst the door is still open to all, when they come they must come with a life that is going to measure up to the love which has been shown to them. A person cannot go on living a kind of life lived before coming to Christ, there must be purity, holiness and goodness.  A sinner may come but cannot remain a sinner.

     There is also a lesson in that the way a person comes demonstrates the spirit in which they come.  If you go to a person’s home for dinner, you don’t go in the clothes you wear to the gardening.  It may not matter to the friend, but out of courtesy and respect we present ourselves worthy of the invitation and kindness shown to us.

     So when we come to worship we don’t need to be on a fashion parade, but I think some of the sights I have seen are quite offensive. Such dressing would not be worn if the person was visiting royalty or at a civic function, why on earth do they think they should come to the king of king’s house.   I watch the services from America and the people dress most smartly worthy of meeting the Lord.

     The dressing of our minds however is of prime importance as we should dress in clothes of expectation, coming in clean hearts and minds, with humble penitence, faith and reverence.  In His Holy Word God said He should be worshipped with reverence and awe.

     This is why I cannot bring myself to baptism services. Baptism is a most sacred sacrament in which a person has been touched by God and has opened their heart to receive Christ.  There is a sense of repentance and commitment, and in the Bible that is when people were baptised.  The Church in its dubious wisdom opened the way for children of committed Christian parents to be baptised, but in many cases this has been adopted to include all and sundry who make promises they have no intention of keeping.

     I can’t  go into this any more deeply on account of time, but it is a mockery to say a child is born again, one of the most evangelically treasured phrases, and to ask the parents if they have repented of sin and turned to Christ.  Apart from the fact most have no idea what is called for, if they did some would find it hard to answer truthfully.

     So the meaning of the parable is clear. God has provided the feast of the kingdom. It is the wedding feast for his Son. The invitation goes out far and wide. Many are invited, but few show by their response that they are chosen.

May God bless and reveal His Holy Word to you.



Saturday 3 October 2020

 Matthew 21 v 33/46

Before we look at Jesus’ Parable of the Vineyard, we need to understand the setting in which it occurs in the Gospel.

Jesus has finished his journey from Galilee to Jerusalem and has made his triumphal entry into the Holy City. The entry provoked those who were inclined to deny his spiritual authority. The stage was now set for the telling of the parable.

Jesus was being interrogated by the chief priests and the teachers of the law as He arrived in Jerusalem on the final stage of His journey to the Cross.  He had caused a sensation when He threw the money changers out of the Temple and was defeating His interrogators when He told them this parable.  The Jews knowing the Old Testament would have clearly understood what Jesus saying was based on a passage from Isaiah

It was a common practice for wealthy Jews or foreigners to own farms and then rent them out to tenant farmers. The land would be fenced in to set boundaries and to keep out intruders. 

Jesus spoke about a master who rented out his vineyard in which there would be a winepress and a watch tower.  The grapes would be crushed and the juice would run through a pipe into a deep compartment and then put into jars.  The watchtower was for a man to keep watch for impending animals or thieves.

At harvest time the owner sent his servants to collect his share of the yield which the tenant was expected to have ready.

The tenants proved to be wicked men, dishonest and cruel and when they arrived to collect the fruit they were refused and one servant was severely beaten, another was killed outright and a third was stoned to death.

It may be thought the master would have acted equally as violent in response to the death of his servants, but he did not rather giving the tenants another chance.  He sent further servants and they were similarly treated.

In desperation he finally sent his son believing they would not kill him but they did.  The chief priests listening knew that Jesus was getting at them.

The vineyard in the story represents Israel and the master to be God. The servants are the Old Testament prophets who God sent to guide Israel into lives of righteousness and obedience to God,.  The Son of course was Jesus.

 On the occasion before us the Lord Christ explained to the people what was going to happen in Jerusalem.  He had previously spoken to them in brief language about why he had come into the world. It was to give his life as a ransom for many. He had come to seek and save that which was lost. He had come to be lifted up in order to draw all men to himself, what we have before us is the ultimate explanation of Jesus’ death. The event was about to take place in Jerusalem, just a few days after these words were spoken. God the Son, lovingly sent into the world by God the Father was going to offer himself as a sacrifice for sin.

This parable is a portrait of the loving God who had taken the initiative in choosing people, preparing for them a land flowing with milk and honey, and sending his prophets to speak his word to them. The Lord Jesus is the Son of God, and Jesus is here telling them that they- the people he is speaking to-are going to treat him as wickedly as their fathers treated the prophets before him. The Kingdom of salvation will then be taken from them and given to the Gentiles. Jesus is the chosen but rejected stone of God’s building. In other words, this parable told the people how God viewed them, as his defiant rebellious people who had taken for granted all the privileges he had given them, the covenants and promises and his shepherding care. The parable told them of their responsibilities which they had dismissed. Finally, it told them of the consequences facing them of killing God’s Son.

 The Bible throughout reveals that God chose Israel out of nations to be His specially chosen one and this can be understood by the way Israel has prospered down the ages.  Just in our lifetime we saw how the combined military might of all the surrounding Arab nations attacked Israel, a country only the size of Wales, yet within seven days Israel triumphed and defeated her attackers.  Military experts have agreed that it is beyond human experience and understanding that this could have happened without divine involvement.

In addition most technological, medical, and agricultural discoveries and inventions have originated in Israel and been made available for the benefit of people across the world.  More noble prizes for science  and arts have been awarded to Jews than any other nation.  But still they have abandoned God and often suffered the consequences.

God has also given advantages and blessings to other nations, which Jesus indicated would happen in the parable.  He said the hand of God which was first intended for the Jew would be extended and given to both Jews and Gentiles.

Jesus said the answer is simple; the tenants were not satisfied with being tenants they wanted to be owners.  A tenant is someone who is accountable to someone else and pays rent.  Jesus is pointing out the same is true of human beings generally, we are accountable also to God.  We owe Him a debt of moral obedience who gave us such a beautiful world to live in and we have to pay the debt.

Jesus pointed out that responsibility involves two people.  Our moral nature demands that as we were put on this earth as tenants, we owe God our creator. We are often not content to be just tenants in the vineyard and to give some fruit back to God

Jesus said the corner stone was the most important stone for the building and is central to the building, now Jesus himself; the builders are the leaders of Israel, and they are about to crucify him, and they assume that they can get away with that. Jesus says the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. He is actually talking about his resurrection when He overcomes the death they thought they had accomplished.

Finally Jesus shows us the patience of God who has given rebel human beings the opportunity one after another to repent only to be treated with neglect.  But God is full of grace and mercy and is always ready to offer, but His patience is not infinite.

The passage end with the chief priests wanting to arrest Jesus so as to silence Him, and this is what is happening in this and other Western countries; an attempt to silence Jesus.   All Christians must unite to make sure they don’t succeed.

Whilst the parable was told many years ago to Israel it would be a mistake to think it has no meaning or lesson for us.  The words of Jesus are everlasting and apply to our lives equally. We learn how the generosity that God shows can be rejected and not appreciated, and the response that He expects be avoided.

The United Kingdom has had experience of God’s concern with many blessings. We have however allowed the secularists to exercise their agenda, which is to drive Christianity right out of the public arena, and create an atmosphere where any criticism of the most minor kind, or to an alternative opinion, of the oppressive political correctness, is to be labelled bigotry or one of the many kinds of phobia which now exist. The Bible is so little known by people under the age of 40 years that we are no better than a pagan nation.

This is why so many things have gone wrong and will continue to do so and dreams of a better society are just a fantasy. What the country will be like in twenty years is just too horrific to imagine, unless there is a spiritual and moral revival. 

Clergy in all times and places are put on notice by the Parable of the Vineyard.     Jesus is the owner of the vineyard, the Lord of the Church.  All clergy are appointed to be faithful servants, but we see instances where the leaders are acting more like the chief priests and failing to fulfil their responsibilities to the owner of the vineyard.

A most relevant problem to the Church, and one of the reasons for such low attendances I believe, is the lack of credibility of the current Church. 

We have the opportunity through the ministry of the Bible to be close to God, but the Church, with the exception of the (black) Pentecostal Churches, has largely turned from the original writing of the Bible to follow an adapted version which caters for the culture of society.  This has happened with the approval of some bishops. .  The Bible seems to have become a rough guide, to be applied when it is convenient. God has the right to expect a less rebellious attitude and more obedience to His given Word.

Ministers in the Church must accept their first duty is to teach God’s Word, as it is written in Scripture, not as they might like it to be written. But even more; by their life and action to live the Bible.

It is a sad fact that there are those in ministry whose priority is to further their own careers and consequently steer away from giving answers and guidance on moral and social issues.

Lay people have an essential part to play .In daily living to remember the responsibility of acting worthily of the Lord and not succumbing to the inevitable pressures faced by the majority who will be unbelievers.

This basic and fundamental rejection of God tells you what is wrong with human nature. Whilst we accept there are those who are sinful and blind to their sinfulness, there are far too many people who claim  to be religious without there being very much credibility to their claim.  They attend Church, profess to be holy and good people, sing enthusiastically and listen to the Bible being read, but it means so little to them because they have their own ideas and desires as to how much they will accept.

We see how human irresponsibility can get out of control when activists in the political scene call for widespread civil disobedience to bring down a democratically elected government just because it doesn’t please them or satisfy their personal ambitions, which is very wrong, even if the government is lacking somewhat.

The moral bid for autonomy has led to us throwing off our debt to God, doing what we like with His creation causing ecological problems which the Green Party are fond of telling us about.  The greed of humans, the selfishness and the concern for without responsibility, and the resentment against authority has led to political rebellion, combined with the obsession for so called equality without realising we can be perfectly equal without all being robotically the same.

Remember the words of God, ‘if my people, who are called by my name, pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will heal their land.’


My God bless you