Sunday 29 November 2020


Mark 13
This Sunday is Advent Sunday, the first day of the Church calendar, when we think of the coming back our Lord, and live our lives in the face of God's mercy, grace, and peace obtained through the death of Jesus on the Cross. This offers a new encouragement to get back to Church, which we can now reasonably do.

The Gospel lesson this Sunday comes from the 13th Chapter of Mark, in the first eight verses.
This Chapter has been described as the most Jewish in the whole Bible as it relates to Jewish history. The words and terms Jesus uses would be familiar to the Jews of His day. The Chapter refers to the Second Coming of the Lord, which many people decline to believe or just simply ignore.

The Jews always believed they were God’s chosen people and as such merited a special and predominant place in the world which they could only achieve by God’s help, and they were confident this would be given. This would be known as the ‘Day of the Lord’, which would be followed by a time of trouble after which God would create a new world and judgement would follow.

The Temple in Jerusalem was considered to be among the most spectacular wonders of the ancient Roman Empire. The original temple constructed by Solomon had been destroyed and when the Jews returned to the homeland 70 years later, they constructed the second temple. King Herod wanted to gain favour with the Jews so offered to rebuild their temple. The work began in 20BC and would eventually take 66 years to complete.

The building stood on top of Mount Moriah and literally dominated the skyline of the ancient city. Between the Temple and the city lay a valley and a bridge spanned that valley which led straight into the Royal porch. It could be seen from many miles away and from anywhere in the city, being 172 feet long and 20 stories high. The stones that made up Herod’s Temple were pure white limestone, and the doors, walls and floors of the Temple were overlaid with pure gold. 

Jesus had left the Temple with His Apostles who commented on the beauty of the buildings. Jesus knew that the Temple would by 70AD be destroyed by the Roman Army, and told the Apostles it would one day come down. When He was asked when it would happen, went on to say men would come and lead the Church astray with heresies.

This is done on various ways; by teaching doctrine to meet their own ends, and the same thing is happening in the Church today as men and women are moulding Christian truth to suit themselves. If such truth conflicts with desires, amend the truth is the practice.

Then there is teaching that God is a God of love and forgiveness who is ready to forgive all when asked, without telling that God is a God of justice and can be angered by sin. It is a false teaching that Christianity can be so ordered to look popular and attractive, irrespective as to whether it contradicts Scripture, as we see by the advocates of same sex marriage and loose morality

There is always the attempt to stop people from attending Church. Incredible as it may appear,a Vicar recently told people not to bother worrying about going to Church on Sundays but stay in bed and enjoy yourselves. This adds credibility to people who firmly claim that you don’t have to go to Church to be a Christian. If a person separates from Church there is something wrong with their thinking. 

In the Epistle to the Hebrews it is stated, ‘let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage on another.’

A Church family is unique in that it consists of different ages, backgrounds, experiences and sexes. It is where God provides for us to be come equipped to carry out His message to the world. We sing praise together, pray for each other and for the world's needs, share bread and wine in Holy Communion, and remember what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. 

We live in two worlds. We live in the earthly world, but we also live in the world of the Spirit, and there is always the danger we can forget about God and become so involved in earthly activities. 

We need to meet with others to have fellowship, to gain and give encouragement. Each of us has to make an effort. Most people believe in God and many have a respect for the Church, but that is as far as it goes. They don’t want God or the Church to intrude into their lives, unless of course they want a baptism or wedding and then both can become useful. 

There are many, far too many people in recent times, who have forsaken Church and it can be so very easy to give up, go with the flow and fall away. Once this is done it is often hard to get back into the practice of coming to Church. This is why the Bible urges the need for Christians to be with each other. 

There are numerous reasons for people giving up worship. There are the cynical voices pouring scorn, making people feel doubtful. There are forces of secularisation, now given so much attention and credence. There are pressures from within families, where some members are anti-church, notably husbands regarding their wives. The worry about taking a public stand, and indeed, from within the Church itself. So we should not be tempted to separate ourselves from those who are joined to us by a common faith. Meeting and following Christ can be costly but mostly well rewarded. 

We must always be aware of the fact that in many parts of the world Churches cannot exist, nor can Christians meet with other Christians for fear of imprisonment or even death. Increasing hostility is being displayed in countries like Egypt, Pakistan, and Nigeria, where Churches are burned down and bombed. Here we still have freedom to worship, but if not cherished and valued and fought for will be lost. 

But there is one thing I feel needs to be stressed. We should ensure the Church we attend is one faithful to God’s Word and seeks to build each other up through the Scriptures, and where the true gospel is preached.

We have to acknowledge however sadly this is not always the case, so it serves no purpose going to a Church which fails to do these things. Too many preachers have their own agenda, which is created around a morality not supported by Scripture, and where the teaching is given to subscribe to the culture of the day. 

You must find a Bible based Church. Research in America has shown that going to Church and meeting with fellow believers is good for your health. A survey in North America of 4,000 people, found that older people especially who attended Church, were less depressed and far healthier that their non religious counterparts. 

Let us therefore draw near to God, holding firmly to your belief. Don’t let unpleasant people, secularists, or anyone else hold you back. Remember too, Jesus said if anyone rejected Him, He will one day reject them. Such a fate is too horrible to consider.

The message for to day is that Jesus will one day return when He will be the judge of all our lives and to Him we will answer. We are warned there will be signs such as wars, famines, earthquakes; things which have taken place through the ages, although the threat seems more potent now especially when Israel is surrounded by hostile nations who are threatening to unite against Israel with the intention of destroying that nation. Israel will not lie down, but fight fiercely and who can tell the consequences. God has vowed to protect Israel, and the achoevements that small nation has overcome all manner of trials and tribulations, and the fact it is the only true democracy inthe Middle East, existing despite the hostility of much larger nations reveals they are still blessed by God. 

This Gospel passage should make any intelligent person who does not attend Church and/or worship Christ think seriously.

If you do not believe in Christ, the readings ought to make you reflect very deeply. The Bible states, ‘God is ready to welcome you, now is your time to receive salvation’. Don’t miss out.

Tuesday 24 November 2020


For the duration of the government’s pleasure, there are no places of worship allowed to be open. Such is contrary to the terms of the Magna Carta, and initiates a dangerous precedent for future governments of all persuasions to close Churches on any pretense.

This is the second time this year, despite an agreement being tacitly arranged after the first shutdown, that if Churches did not take to the Courts, there would be no further closures.

Numerous Members of Parliament, including the previous Prime Minister, have called on the present Prime Minister, to abandon his action against Churches, but of course they are facing a man who has shown little understanding or sympathy for the Christian view, indeed has supported anti=Christian teaching.

The leaders of the Churches approached the government over such unilateral action, and seemed to have been summarily dismissed. It is only a short time ago that our leaders were  vigorously opposing government policy regarding their action on Brexit as not being moral, I wonder if they were as forceful in challenging on Church closure.

A group of Welsh pastors challenged their government, and as God’s law is superior to State law in Christian belief, in addition to the support of the Constitution of the Magna Carta, and the Public Health Act of 1984, they were entitled to do so.

The Queen, who is nominally head of the Church, in her Coronation oath, gave to the clergy authority to preserve the rights and privileges as do or shall appertain to them. The European Court of Human Rights also appears to contain against the government. In France the High Court ruled against closing their Churches, and the German Chancellor has not closed her country’s Churches.

The general tone of this government is to oppose all moral norms.  Having forced Northern Ireland to accept abortion and same sex marriage against its will, they have encouraged home abortions with disastrous consequences to some women; and since March of this year, there have been 110,000 abortions in this country.

In falsely claiming that allowing Churches to open it could lead to a spread of the virus, they have shown themselves disingenuous and duplicitous in their lies, as both Scientific and Medicinal Societies have stated there is no evidence to support this. Yet, at the same time they have opened the Universities, where there is the biggest incidence of the virus and the refusal of many students to obey the guidelines of the government.

There is a notable failure to stop the Church from opening for secular purposes, such as acting as foodbanks and other social activities, and whilst this is a notable and praiseworthy service by the Churches and people, there is inconsistency and bias on the part of the government

I would never at one time have believed a Conservative (named)Government of all Parties, would have acted in the manner this one has. However, Conservative does not appear to be the right word in this instance.

A few weeks past, the government ruled that people should not gather together, should distance 2 meters apart, and wear face masks. All such calling was ignored as crowds swarmed on central London in protest, and they all were allowed to carry on, (force of numbers).

I wonder what the outcome would have been if all Christians had took similar action and continued Church worship, and said as Joshua,’ as for me I will  follow the Lord’.

Saturday 21 November 2020


Colossians. Chapter 1


Sunday this week is when the Church celebrates Christ as King of all Kings, Lord of Lords, Son of God, and eternal Saviour of mankind.

 This morning I want to take you back to the time of the first Christian Church which set a model for all time. Without any of our wonderful technological discoveries, the gospel spread across the world.   

 The Church in Western nations, and especially in this country, is losing members almost weekly, and is failing to be of any interest or relevance to the under 50 age ranges. This should give all sincere Christians real concern.  You must have noticed how congregations are falling in attendances, and whilst deaths and illness are causes, it is factual that people are feeling there is little purpose in coming.

 In the Epistle from Colossians.  False teachers had infiltrated the Church just as we experience today, and when there is false teaching there is inevitably division and ill feeling.  We do not know what the trouble was in Colossae, but it was serious enough for Paul to write and admonish them.

 Paul describes Christ as the first born of all creation; pre-eminent over all creation; the One who holds all things together; and the head of the Church. All these statements are to emphasise the deity of Christ and His having Supremacy over all in heaven and earth.

It is in Jesus’ position as head of the Church which I am concentrating on this morning.   Jesus is the one that builds His church, so all His servants need to be careful to follow all He directed.

The last words of Jesus before His ascension were to His Apostles:  ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  AND teaching them to observe all that I have commanded.   Here in the words of our Lord is the purpose for which He founded the Church.

 The first Church was founded on the teaching of the Apostles who took the gospel around the ancient world, and that church was a model from which we might do well to follow as the Bible states the people were devoted to such teaching.

 The Apostles taught the truth about Jesus Christ. They taught about the way in which he fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures in order to bring people to salvation through His sacrificial death on the cross and His resurrection. They also taught how salvation in Jesus Christ was to be worked out in the life of the believer. They are not teaching something that they have made up in their own minds, but only things which have been revealed to them by Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

 Jesus had already made it clear to them that their teaching was to be consistent with His.

What should occupy our minds is to consider if the Church is still preaching the message of the Apostles, and is it fit for the purpose Christ and His Apostles built it?  That is a hard question to answer; in places yes, especially the Pentecostal Churches; but in the main denominational Churches, only to a limited extent. In order to justify that let us reflect.

 Jesus gave strict commands on spiritual, moral, ethical and social matters.  Paul warned that there would be those who would not wish to here sound doctrine, and would seek false teachers who would say what they wanted to hear, and there are plenty of them in the Church today. Never forget, the church does not belong to men (or women) it is Christ’s church and he builds it through the teaching of the men who were His Apostles.

 When we hear their teaching on a regular basis, not only does our faith grow, but also our ability to defend and help others to understand, especially those most close and dearest to us who are not yet followers of our Lord.  We may not remember all we hear, but will be inspired by the power of what has been preached.  We will learn to be guided by the Scriptures and will come to know more about God and His Son and how we should live according to His commands.

 Charles Wesley taught that the value of a person’s life was to be measured by their faith, so we need to get our way of life in order to justify our faith.

 I am sure that many Church members do not realise the danger our faith and Church face.  There are forces out to annihilate Christianity from the public arena and silence biblical quotations on moral and ethical issues. This has the consequences of people who are not interested in religion, but who have to make judgements and assessments of people, such as Judges  and social workers being influenced to follow society’s agenda.  Police are arresting people for speaking in Christian terms, influenced wrongly by aggressive activism of groups pushing their own causes.

 Whereas in the United States they now (still)have a President, who has forcefully spoken out in defence of Christian belief, and assured the people of their freedom to express their beliefs as laid out in the country’s Constitution, which they did not have to the same extent previously. We have a Prime Minister who is totally dismissive of the Church, but not so dismissive of loose morality.

If we are to be the witnesses for Jesus, we must first be sure we have experienced His presence, and secondly, tell positively what Jesus stated and commanded. It is not enough to say we know about Him, even the devil could say that, we must have accepted Him as Saviour and believed in all He did and commanded. We cannot amend or put on an application which He obviously would not have approved. 

 The responsibility may principally be upon the clergy to preach according to the commands of Jesus, and the Bible states a preacher is given a solemn task to preach in the name of God and Jesus Christ, and will one day have to answer as to how faithfully we carried out that privilege.  But every Christian is called upon to defend and contend for the gospel.

 We have to tell our faith is not something someone made up. There is testimony from people alive at the time of Jesus’ life on earth, and not only from His followers but from literary men of the time, and it has been recorded. 

 Our Gospel is that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures.  This, which was an early Christian confession, give us the heart of the gospel and show that the resurrection is an integral part of the gospel. The reality can be verified by the Scriptures and historical evidence as the empty tomb and the eye witnesses

 Only Christianity has a Cross at the centre of its faith. Only Jesus suffered an horrific death on the Cross, a death made for criminals who were made to parade through the streets, with a crown on his head beaten 39 times with a leather belt fitted with metal studs to cut the skin, stripped of clothes and nailed through His hands and feet on the cross, and all for the sake of paying the penalty for the sins you and I commit.

 He could have refused to go there, but went willingly so we could be forgiven, and put back in to a relationship with God and made us fit for heaven, where we will live on day with Him.  God said this is what man has shown and done to my Son; this is what I have done, and showed by raising Him to life again.

 A new secular agenda has replaced biblical faith with an obsession on equality, sexuality and gender change, which creates irrational and unpleasant behaviour. What exacerbates the situation is that there is not expected to be any challenge to that agenda, although they can vilify religion. In effect, it has caused more inequality

We have come to this stage in the nation’s life since the Church cast aside the Bible, which is just to be noted in passing, and there has been therefore nothing to give credence or realism. It has long been the aim of secularism and an extreme political creed to break up the family and any firm basis of morality.

 In our technological age when so many devices can be used to reach a wide number of people, and sensation is the aim, and widely used by activists, feeble minds can so easily be filled with lies and distortions; which is why we need the strength of the Bible to act as a protective.

 With all our smartphones, ipads and computers; by numerous translations in simple language, we have the Bible more available than ever, yet less read, known or acted upon.  But there are so many eager minds dearly wanting one in their own language, and being made available to them.  Christians who face persecution, injury and sometimes death for just being Christian, but whose faith would put many in this country to shame.

 People tell me there are contradictions in the Bible, but there are not, just different ways of writing which do not diminish the truth one dot.  If I were to give each of you here today a piece of paper and told you to go home and write an account of what happened from the moment you came into the Church until you left, I am confident there would not be any two accounts the same, yet no one would deny you were here.

  Let me close with the words of John Wesley. I want to know one thing, the way to heaven: how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book! O give me that book! At any price, give me the Book of God!  I have it: here is knowledge enough for me.

 May God richly bless and help all who read his Holy Word.

Saturday 14 November 2020

 Turn with me to the 10th Chapter of Romans.

Paul states he prays for them to be saved.  The word ‘saved’ is one that upsets people, carrying with it the image of being assailed with the question ‘are you saved brother/sister?’.

 I read of one man’s experience in a theatre when another man pointed to an empty seat and asked if it was saved.  The first man replied, ‘no, but I am’, and the person asking quickly moved away.

 Paul speaks of people who have a zeal for God, but such does not lead them to salvation.  The problem is so many people do not believe they need Jesus’ sacrificial death to make them right with God, they can earn that by their own efforts.  Just be honest, be a good citizen, etc.

In the gospel passage we read of Thomas doubting the telling by the other Apostles of having seen Jesus in his absence.  We should be able to understand the reaction of Thomas, he was an ordinary man who had seen Jesus crucified a few days earlier and was now told that in his absence Jesus had appeared physically alive and well.  When Jesus confronted him later, he made that tremendous confession, ‘my Lord and my God’.

Such reluctance to believe in the power of Jesus to come alive is mirrored in the lives of so man people to day, who will not accept that a man who died on a Cross 2,000 years ago in a land on the other side of the world was raised from the dead.  More so, that people actually believe he lives on by His Spirit in their lives today and influences their way of life. Even some clergy fail to accept the facts of both His birth and physical resurrection.    Belief demands commitment and faith and trust, which is not given by the majority, and it is that lack of faith that Paul writes about in his Letter to the RomansPaul 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.

 Verses 6/8 show the contrast between the righteousness based on faith and that which comes from the law, now fulfilled in Christ. There is no need to travel to heaven to bring Christ down for God has already done that, and no case of bringing Him from the realm of the dead because God has done that too.

The Jews believed all they had to do was obey the Jewish Law which God had given them, and that made them righteous in God’s sight.  The Law however was given to the Jews to show them that is not enough, for no one can keep all the Commandments, and just as with a chain if you break one link the chain is totally broken, so as no one can keep every commandment perfectly, the lot are broken.  The Mosaic Law was given anticipating the coming of Christ, and when Paul states Christ is the end, it means the law is no longer binding and is replaced by Christ Himself as the means of salvation.

From verses 9/15 is the main thrust of the passage. 

Verse 9 states, ’if you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved’. The whole Christian message is close to hand, on the lips and in the heart.

 We are in fact at the doctrine of justification by faith; ‘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.’  God in great mercy is ready to 

pardon all who accept that Jesus died on the Cross as a penalty 

payment for all our individual sins, and God raised Him from the 

dead.  If we confess that we believe this God grants us His 


Why do we need God’s grace?; because all men and all women are 

by nature spiritually dead and separated from God.  Grace is the 

unmerited favour of God.

Grace saves us through faith; nothing more, nothing less. than salvation is by grace.” 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. Grace must be free or else it is not grace at all. Three words; grace, saved, faith. Grace is the source, Faith is the means, and Salvation freely given and received by faith alone is the result. We are saved by grace through faith:

Think what heaven would be like if you had to earn your 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 the Rural Dean who was a real traditional English gentleman (and there’s not many of us about), introduced me to a man and mentioned some of the position he had held in his Church, and the man was really indignant because some obscure committee was omitted.  There really are people who join the Church for egotistic reasons.     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.

 Grace also means that some people may be too good to be saved. That is, they may have such a high opinion of themselves that they think they don’t need God’s grace. They may admit they are sinners but they don’t admit they are spiritually dead. They may think they’re sick because of sin but not truly dead. God’s grace cannot help you until you are desperate to receive it.

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.

Salvation is never gained by earning it, or by trying to be good, or by the good outweighing the bad, but simply by acknowledging that Jesus Christ has done it all on your behalf.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." The important thing, therefore, is to bring people to that place. It is not just a routine matter, it involves our whole being. The heart must be involved, that is, the inner consciousness, the deep conviction of the will. Then the mouth must acknowledge it. There must be a willingness to consciously confess that Jesus is Lord

That sounds simple enough, believe and be saved, but it is evident from reading the New Testament that not everyone who claims to believe has the faith which saves. 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.’

 What then does it mean to believe?  The answer may determine our eternal future.   Millions have not the slightest idea of what it 

really meant to be a Christian.

People have been attending church 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.

 Look at God’s promise in verse 11“As the Scripture says, anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame You may be disappointed in your friends and loved ones. Husbands and wives are disappointed with each other from time to time. Children are disappointed in parents, and parents are sometimes disappointed with their children. Friends leave us, family members forget us, and business partners double cross us. But no one who trusts in Jesus will ever be disappointed.

Paul draws out a further implication in verse 12: “For there is no difference between Jew nor gentile.” The Bible states, ‘God has no favourites’. No group or race or culture has a special claim on God’s grace.

 Paul says, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?" So there has to be belief. That means the mind has to be engaged -- Behind the belief, Paul says, is a message -- something heard. "How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?" Something has to be preached. Some message must come. Again, this is a very important aspect of Christian faith..

 Now, 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. The great thing of the Christian faith is not that we are presenting some philosophy, but a faith that is grounded in events that cannot be explained away. That is our message.

Over the years since the birth of the Church, men and women have travelled the world to tell others of the gospel; they invariably were men and women with brilliant minds ready to risk their lives in the cause, at the same time making great financial sacrifices to do so.  Likewise there are those who gave up careers and position to serve Christ in His Church in every country, something very special must have made them do so. 

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 mans, perhaps through a poster, a friend, an occurrence in one’s life, but the principal way is through the preaching of the Bible.

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, if we seek to have God add to the Church today, 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.

     Amazing grace how sweet the sound.  The Lord has promised good, His Word is our hope secure.

Wednesday 11 November 2020




I want you to turn with me to Paul’s 1st Letter to the Thessalonian Church, which is the set Epistle for this Sunday.  


In this 4th Chapter, Paul answers a question most people have asked at some time of their life, more so as they get older.  What happens to me when I die?  Here, Paul is responding to that problem which is disturbing this young Church. 


Paul had established this Church and most of the members had come from worshipping idols, but had become committed and devoted Christians.  Paul had only three weeks with them before he was driven out of the city by opposing Jews, so had not had time to fully explain as much as he would have liked.  They had been told about the death of Jesus and His resurrection, and how He would one day return and claim all His believers, but they were afraid that some of their members would die before Jesus returned and so miss being with Him in heaven. 


In this passage before us, Paul deals with this important doctrine of the Church, one which is mentioned 300 times in the New Testament.  Whilst it is a vitally important message which non believers should hear, it is also very desirable that Christians should hear and be reminded of, and reassured what the gospel states concerning our eternal future.


Paul begins by saying he does not wish us to be unaware of what happens to those who have fallen asleep.  Here he is referring to Christians as asleep to make the point that they will awake from the grave when Christ returns.  Paul states whilst we may grieve when we lose someone dear, which is in fact what Jesus did when His friend Lazarus died, we are not like unbelievers who have no future hope. 


When the Bible speaks of ‘hope’, it is not the vague meaning we might have when we say I hope you have a good day; it is something more positive. Christians do have the belief and expectation that whilst there is parting, there will be reunion with those we have lost for a while.


We have been considering our future so far as believers; what can we say to unbelievers.


I have been using the word ‘Christians’ in the biblical sense.  Most people would like to call themselves Christians if they are not atheists or members of another faith; that is not how the Bible sees it.  A Christian in the truest sense is someone who believes Jesus died on the Cross, and rose again. His death was the price He paid that our sins may be forgiven so that our relationship with God can be restored.  His risen state is to assure us that we too will rise with Him, provided we accept Him as Lord and Saviour, and commit ourselves to live as God has shown us how, that is to be in the words of the Bible.

So if unbelievers have no hope, what is the consequence?  People scoff at talk of the return of Christ and of a Day of Judgement. Such talk becomes the butt of their jokes and is dismissed out of hand. Later in our passage Paul states they will suffer wrath because they will have rejected the only means of escape for any of us, and that is Jesus. This is a sombre warning for us all and should make us concerned for those members of our families who have rejected Christ. It should make us want to do all we can to persuade them to turn with us to a Saving Lord.


The Bible is very clear that there will be a Day of Judgement, a day of accountability, a day when all the books will be opened, a day when all the wrongs will be righted, a day when justice will be done.

Jesus always made two distinctions.  He spoke of tares and wheat; of sheep and goats in today’s gospel reading; of two roads, one leading to eternal life and the other to destruction.  He spoke of heaven and hell in equal measure.  


For many people today hell is a forbidden word in the religious sense.  I was at a clergy meeting and at the Church there was a mural which had faded and when I asked why it had not been restored I was told by a fellow Minister that it depicted sinners being consigned to hell and he added, but we don’t preach about hell now do we.  I answered that I did and he looked at me with complete horror.  But Jesus did too; you can read His words in this book. 


Jesus used different terms in which to describe hell, but simply it means just being separated eternally from God.  It is strange that whilst people dispute any notion of hell as ridiculous they use the word constantly for all kinds of things and in all situations.


One of the great questions that people have to the Christian faith is, how can a loving God send people to hell.  It is not that God does or wants to send anyone to hell; it is rather people choose that course by ignoring God and all He stands for.   It may be something you have felt, you can’t understand how the Bible can teach that there is such a place.


The Bible teaches quite clearly that there will be a final Day of Judgement, a final day when we will be held accountable, and Jesus left us with a clear message of the alternatives.


In verse 15, Paul mentions having had a word from the Lord, something which the Lord revealed to him personally, so we may be assured that what Paul is telling us can be relied upon. Those who die are in conscious fellowship with Christ in the first stage, and will rise with Christ with new bodies when He returns.


I have never been to Hong Kong, but my son can tell me about it, because he has lived there. There is only one person who has died, experienced life after death, and is able to tell us about it, and that is Jesus. What he says we can rely on. He speaks the truth. Paul is one of the chosen spokesmen for the risen and ascended Christ.


After a funeral service people offer words of comfort to the bereaved; Paul is saying here we should do so, but as Christians, not in the same way, we can comfort one another with the assurance of a further meeting with the deceased. Of course we will grieve when those we love die and were separated from them, for now. But the nature of our grieving can and should be rather different from the hopeless grief of unbelieving people.   


Having set out the future Paul then answers the question of when this will happen by pointing out that God in His wisdom does not reveal this. Therefore there will be no time for preparation .He says it will be like a thief who comes in the night unannounced, or like a woman delivering a baby; both events come on suddenly and can be painful.


When Jesus returns it will be just the same, His coming will be sudden and painful for those not having believed in Him. It will be like the householder who gets burgled and has no insurance; he was intending to get cover but just didn’t get around to doing so. Families will be divided with one taken and one left, some destined to be with Him others not.  Paul is not trying to frighten or threaten, he is actually reassuring believers who may be feeling insecure.


Paul talks about light and darkness with believers being children of light; we don’t live recklessly as unbelievers do, but we stay sober and awake.  He uses the metaphor of being drunk and fallen asleep referring to unbelievers living in a dark world.


Drawing upon the Old Testament where the Lord is portrayed as a warrior wearing armour, so the Christian puts on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of salvation.


I realise this passage is one which can be a message which disturbs, and even distresses, but the doctrine

of judgement is one of the basic and fundamental doctrines of the Church and is put in the Bible to help and save us; it helps to explain some of the seeming unfairness in the world.  


If there was no doctrine of judgement, it would mean that we live in an unfair world, one in which the evil and guilty would have prospered, where there would be no distinction between goodness by the countless millions who served the Lord faithfully, often in much hardship, and the barbarism of men like Hitler and others like him.  Heaven and hell are clear demonstrations that God is a just God.


The passage ends with words of encouragement.  The Christian Church is a community of mutual comfort and Paul is urging them to give one another help in their anxieties with the fundamental truths of the gospel, that the Jesus who is coming again is the very same person who died and rose again. 


The supreme result of the death and resurrection of Jesus is to bring us into a personal union with Him, one which neither death, nor bereavement, nor judgement can ever destroy. 


So let us be comforted by these words; and let us try to bring to know Christ those nearest and dearest to us who have yet to find Him.  We must let it be known no one is beyond redemption, and God will receive all who turn to Him who accept that Jesus died for them and their forgiveness.

Wednesday 4 November 2020



(Ephesians 6. V 10/20)

On Sunday, people will gather once again on this special day, to remember the great sacrifices made by men/women, many of whom paid the supreme sacrifice of their lives, whilst others were injured and disabled for life. 

As the years roll by, the number of those who were alive during the last World War grows ever smaller reducing by the year.  But the memories do not fade, as we recall how this nation stood alone on the brink when all seemed to be lost and there was even talk of surrender.  But God raised up a man who refused to surrender and instead rallied the nation to perform such heroic deeds. 

How sad and shameful so many young people do not, and will not, try to learn of this glorious chapter of our history, never having had to endure the horrors and hardship of war.  Such has been the direction of education in recent years in (state) schools, they have little or no knowledge of what was done that they may have all the privileges they now enjoy.  To so many Churchill is the name of a dog representing an Insurance Company, rather than one of the greatest Prime Ministers of this country.

 We think of the brave young men, some barely left College, who defended our skies or were shot down over German 

cities; others who perished on a French beach, or drowned 

in deep waters, or were tortured in a Japanese prison camp; 

they gave their lives for principles they loved or believed in.

We have to add those who fought and died in Afghanistan and Iraq in wars which should never have been started, as we replaced one horror for even worse.

All these men and women would have cried for the ideals which took their lives to be remembered and honoured. What would they say if they knew what things were going on this country now?  Would they wonder if their great sacrifices were worthwhile as they looked at us now? 

How disillusioned, as they looked at their injuries; those who came home with shattered limbs, or blind eyes, and saw, people making huge compensation claims for minor injuries, and taking legal action for hurt feelings caused by mere words.

Young people who have never known suffering, trying to dictate who says what and when and where.

Protesting at matters their tiny brains are incapable of understanding.

Unable to obey calls to act in responsible way in the face of a deadly virus.

To see some pumped up public official saying the flag they fought under could not be displayed lest it upset someone from another country?

Those men and women had a faith and a belief, and now we Christians have to take over that fight.  As they fought the Battle of Britain, we must fight For Britain.

 The world has largely rejected Christianity, without having anything to put in its place to combat the evils of the world.  All we hear today is about ‘human rights,’ yet in all walks of public life, even to the highest level of government; we have flagrant deceit, corruption, being economical with the truth and unrestricted immorality, the sort of behaviour which sends out the wrong message to the young and gullible. 

Under the guise of equality, all manner of restrictions are being enacted to restrain freedom of speech and religious faith.  People can be perfectly equal without being the same.  Until we once had a Prime Minister who lied and cheated, stating he would not legislate on one issue, but did; the 

stated he would legislate on another but didn't, by his intransigence. made freedom of religious expression a hate crime, and so a greater penalty could be given than if convicted for burglary or physical assault. 

Christian principles and values were the foundation of this nation’s base, as were many of the social institutions and the legal system of the country.  Our nation’s future depends on the acceptance of the standards of the Bible.

Not all who condemn the moral slide are bigoted and narrow minded.  Those who fought for their country, all those veterans knew what counted in life as they fought for a safer world.  The men on the fighting lines knew things had to get better.  .

 We have a society which is encouraged to forsake a Christian consensus and live, not by Christian principles, but by substituting other principles.   We are submerged in a world that is committed to falsehood, which is why we are called to proclaim the truth.

 Th is Sunday, there will be people in all our Churches o would not normally be there, thus revealing a spiritual content in their lives.  Indeed, almost all people have some spiritual longing; there are so many of these people who would be of enormous value to the Church and who in turn could add so much to their lives.  Within each one of us there is a need for things which money can’t buy, and desires which we cannot express. 

Whilst the majority may not be willing to accept it, we all need a spiritual life.  We need God and the forgiveness, which He offers in Jesus Christ.  Without this our souls are restless. The only obstacle is a lack of motivation.    

Many people are like the two British soldiers who found themselves lost in the deserts of Iraq. They eventually came across an American Officer in his jeep. As they approached him they didn’t even bother to salute and simply blurted out ‘excuse me mate, can you tell us where we are?’  The General took umbrage at their casual attitude and sternly replied, ‘Do you know who I am?’ at which one of the soldiers turned to the other and said, ‘Now we are in real trouble, we don’t know where we are and he doesn’t know who he is!’

Neither do we know who we are and why we are here, so we just live for today and who cares about tomorrow. And that is how we will remain unless there is some communication from the outside, from the One who has made us. A godless self-centred life is a fruitless and empty one.

Last Remembrance Sunday I attended a service at a Parish Church which normally would expect an attendance of 20/30 people, but on that occasion every seat was taken. Here was a captive audience for any preacher of worth to make an impression on.

Instead the sermon was about the terms of surrender for the 1914 war.

The service was one of Holy Communion, which was a total confusion to those unchurched, rather than an ordinary act of worship with well-known hymns. To complete the disaster, plates were thrust in front of people, and in one case kept until the young man could search his pockets for something to put on the plate.    It just gave the impression payment was required for attending.

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

Whilst Christianity has been the faith of this country for centuries, in recent times our Churches have retreated and allowed a secular agenda to exercise undue influence on both society and the Church.  People, I believe, are longing for and wanting spiritual leadership. Our strength is limited only by our faith.  Will that faith let us move mountains or stumble over mole hills?

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

When the Romans invaded a country they would burn their boats so there could be no means of retreat, hence the saying burning your boats.   God is telling us He will give us all the power we need and the Bible calls on us to put on the whole armour of God, and stand fast for the faith, no giving in.

 In today’s passage Paul is giving guidance and draws on the imagery taken from a Roman soldier’s uniform with a portrayal of Christian life as a warfare, using spiritual metaphors for the resources given to the Christian soldier.

Paul looks at the belt which holds the soldier’s uniform together, a breastplate to defend his heart, sandals specially made with spikes in the soles to enable to get a good foothold on the ground to dig his feet in, and a helmet to protect his head. A shield  protects him from the darts of the enemy, and he has a sword to go on the attack.

 Applying them to the Christian, Paul is referring to the belt of truth which is the gospel, which holds our faith, and we must have a pure heart to live according to that truth, and then stand firm and not let our head be turned by false teaching.

 Every army needs to attack, and we should be promoting Christianity as vigorously as other faiths push their faith, armed with the two edged sword of truth.  Our faith is not someone has made up; it is based on the historical fact.

Never let us be ashamed to tell the story of a Saviour who gave His life on the Cross, so that all we unworthy people may have our sins forgiven because He died that we may be made righteous for heaven when our life on this earth is over.  Jesus Christ, by His death, enables us to be in God’s favour, and calls for people to turn back to God.

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

It is also fitting that we remember and recognise the sacrifices made by members of the American Army, who joined our own Army in the assault and fighting which was fought so fiercely when we invaded Europe, and men of the United States Air Corps who flew in raids over the enemy in Europe, and those who now lie in the American Cemetery in Cambridge, which is maintained so beautifully as a tribute to them, with such a fine chapel decorated with illustrated pictures of engagements made. 

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