Friday 1 January 2021

Some thoughts for the new year of 2021

At this time of the year two of the saddest words of the English language are used; namely if only. We look back on some of the events and occasions of a past year, and in the gift of hind sight realise the opportunities we messed up on, and how things could have made such a difference,…if only we had etc. I wonder if our Church leaders feel that way when they look at the state of Christianity in the country today. 
The Church 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, and as we enter a new year reflect on the challenges facing the Churches, especially the Church of England.

As we begin a New Year, we are contending with a vicious virus which is restricting attendances at Church, and which will have deprived us of many of our Christian brothers and sisters.  There will be vacant seats to remind us of that fact:  this further aggravates the present falling attendances. In remembrance of lost friends, we must all make a supreme effort to bring others to learn the faith that they cherished.  

In every business the owners, or the company which owns, want to promote the product they have to the best advantage. When one considers the success of just two outstanding British companies such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer, the application of the desire for perfection in every aspect of their business, promotion, caring for customer satisfaction by offering what is sought, and the loyalty of staff, the reason for such success is obvious; commitment to the purpose of their business. Bankruptcy does not face them.

The Church is engaged on the Lord’s business and we should show similar devotion rather than appear to be striving for bankruptcy. Jesus said, ‘I will build my Church’, but it seems as if those within are saying and we will knock it down.

Can anyone imagine a director in a secular business being allowed to tell customers not to believe the firm’s advertising because it wasn’t true, or the goods being offered were faulty; he would be dismissed forthwith. Would a branch manager be allowed to sell goods from a rival firm, or be indifferent as to whether customers attended his branch?

Such comparisons may appear frivolous to some people, but just take some similar situations to those displayed by those engaged in the Lord’s business. 

The purpose of the Church is to offer and present the teaching of the Apostles, which we know as the New Testament. This tells us God made a man and then woman to be man’s companion, equal in every way but different in style. But our bishops tell us God got it wrong, so we must offer services to change the gender of people and restyle them. 

In addition, they have said God was wrong to suggest a man must only marry a woman, it was perfectly good for it to be another man. God got it wrong again it is said.

Read your Bibles you will find, God created man in his own image, male and female he created them.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife. To the woman God said, you shall bear children.

In recent times the leaders of the Church have made one concession after another to meet the agenda of the LGBT activists, who will never be satisfied until everybody not only accepts their agenda, but approves of it.

How individual people live is a personal matter for each person to decide. God gave us free will and we place ourselves in His hands; we do not bear personal animosity, nor should we, but we do resent the provocative acts of the activists who have caused so much hurt in pursuit of their agenda, causing people to be deprived of their occupation, just for having a different belief. Tolerance and goodwill means allowing someone to have a different opinion.

The Bishop of Liverpool was reported in the Telegraph newspaper of calling fora wholesale reappraisal of traditional interpretations of the Bible relating to sex and marriage.

“Some reconsideration of how we should now understand the Genesis perspective on marriage is necessary, as well as exploration on how far that should affect the underlying principles,’ he added.

In contrast to Jesus who said,  ‘the Scriptures cannot be altered’, (John10 v 35)

Such comments therefore from a person holding Office in the Church, would to men of integrity and loyalty to the Lord, consider the Bishop should consider his position, remembering that every person ordained in the Church vows to banish false doctrine, and uphold the teaching of Holy Scripture.

Does anyone really think alternative doctrines will improve church attendance?  Since Paul Bayes became Bishop of Liverpool, published numbers those attending churches in the Liverpool Diocese have fallen from 21,200 to 17,600; and children’s weekly average attendance has fallen from 4,400 to 3,700. Even Christmas attendance has fallen from 37,800 to 35,100. As a native of that great city, where I worked in every district for many years, I am not surprised at the decrease.

If you are not a (true) believer these things may not matter to you, indeed may seem trivial to mention, but to those who have chosen to enter a preaching ministry it is quite out of order to support, and even more so to practise. If we are to be the witnesses for Jesus, we must tell positively what Jesus stated and commanded. 

Furthermore, as managers we must  offer just the product we are in business for, not what people in opposition to us would like others to have.

Whilst our branches should be clean and appealing, letting people know what is on offer week by week, and then having that offering carefully presented with enthusiasm and purpose to make the people want to come to us regularly to be served, is important. Business only spends millions of pounds on advertising because it gets results. The Church seems at to take the stance at times, that as long as the places are opened so people can please themselves when they come.

We should be assuring people we offer week by week on a regular basis, pure solid food of Scripture and not some junk food, and have that offered carefully presented, with enthusiasm and purpose to make the people want to come to us regularly; we are not just here for special offers, such as baptisms and weddings.

We have a message with an offer that only the Church can give, namely we worship a God who can give us eternal life because he sent a Son, who died a cruel death on a Cross and because of that sacrifice, all who accept his death and believe in him, and follow the way he taught, will be forgiven of all their sins

So, coming back to reality, we should never suggest the Bible has got things wrong; we must maintain the Bible is the inspired, authoritative, unbreakable, fully trustworthy Word of God, and stop trying to please people in order to be accepted.

The foundation of the Church is built on the teaching of the apostles. However unpleasant it may be to accept, we are failing God, Jesus, the saints down the ages and the Church we called to serve and save, by failing to maintain that teaching. Jesus said, ‘if anyone serves me, the Father will honour him.’

God chose 40 men of different occupations and characters and over many years inspired them by His Spirit to write all He wanted people to know and believe and practise. They did not know each other or what others were writing. There are so many interlinked stories, yet there was no contradiction on what was collectively written; not even the most sophisticated computer could do that. 

The Church has thrown out the Bible and in doing so the country has lost its influence, guidance and standards with the consequence the young are growing up not knowing right from wrong.  Today there are many attacks on the truth of the Bible.

The Bible is not the book of the month; it is the unchanging book of the ages, unlike modern technology, it doesn’t need regular updating. The early Church never questioned it, they just preached it. Can you imagine a Muslim cleric ever questioning the Koran?

If the Church is to survive in any meaningful way it is down to the ordinary Church members and the local Churches, as there is now no one on the national scene with any notable charisma or the will and courage to speak out.

Let us Christians be as proud of our faith as other faiths are of theirs. Jesus gave his life on the Cross so that all who believe in him will be forgiven all sin, and restored to a relationship with God. Remembering there is salvation in no one else than Jesus, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we can be saved. No one else in all history made such a sacrifice for all people, who are ready to accept him as Saviour.

The Bible calls on us to love God and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

In conclusion, never be ashamed of the gospel. When Paul wrote to Timothy he told him not to have a spirit of timidity, but be ready to preach the word that God saved us by His grace which He has given us through Christ Jesus. 
I close with this prayer.
God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit upon the Church in the burning fire of your love; grant that your people maybe fervent in the fellowship of the gospel that, always abiding in you they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service. Defend your Church from all false teaching and give to your people knowledge of your truth that we may enjoy eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. 



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