Monday 28 June 2021


Is there a future for the Church of England?

This is a question I as asked recently, but I think a more relevant question might be is there a presence now for the Church?

 Before I start to respond to that question, I want to state that some people may take offence by what they read, and if you do, then I must ask you why?  My duty as a Minister of the Gospel is to tell you what the Bible states, so I am only telling what God has laid down, and I hope all will accept that.

     What an individual person believes is an entirely personal issue, which neither I nor anyone other human person may judge, we all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God, and we will all have to answer before him one day. I respect your right to believe what you do, you kindly accept mine. Everything you read will be verified by the Bible, and quotations of scripture are from the English Standard Version.

     Let us begin by looking at why God created the Church, for it is his creation. Jesus said ‘I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’

It seems to me that many people, even within the Church, are making a strong effort to prevail against it.

     The last word of our Lord to His Apostles were, All authority has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you to the end of the age.’

     The Bible tells that the Apostles obeyed the Lord’s command and the early Church devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles and to the fellowship and the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. We may reasonably believe therefore, that when the Church teaches what the Apostles gave to them, they were blessed by God and the Church grew.  We may further deduce, that when as now, the Church does not follow the Apostles teaching, it falls away.

     Pausing here whilst turning now to the Articles of the Church of England, which all clergy are to be guided to, and urged to uphold.  The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures

     When being ordained to the priesthood, the person  affirms he/she will only teach that which may be concluded and proved by the Scriptures. (the Bible).  Will also banish all false doctrine and drive away erroneous doctrine according to God’s Word.  Will further with faithful diligence,  minister the doctrine and discipline that Christ has commanded.

     When a bishop is being consecrated he/she affirms they will teach and exhort with wholesome doctrine and withstand and convince the gainsayers. They will banish all false doctrine and strange doctrine which is contrary to God’s Word, and call upon al others to do the same.

     The Articles of Religion set out teaching to be given on issues which have been controversial to some misguided clergy.

Article 2 states Jesus was born of the Father in the womb of the blessed Virgin.

Article 3 confirms the doctrine of the presence of hell

Article 4  confirms the doctrine of the PHYSICAL resurrection of Jesus.

Article 6 states the Scriptures teach all necessary and have never been in doubt.

     The duties, responsibilities, and commitments necessary have been set out clearly, and all members of the clergy, of whatever rank, know what they are sworn to do.

     Put down clearly in the clearest of terms, that is to Teach only what is laid down in the Bible. Banish (prevent) any other teaching which is contrary to God’s Word.   Dismiss any alternative teaching regarding conduct and/or belief.  Accept the doctrines of the Virgin Birth, Resurrection, Hell, Full authority of the Bible.  

     Why then are the leaders of the Church, Archbishops and Bishops, adopting policies which blatantly contradict the Bible; campaigning for that which would be contrary to what is to be believed by the Word of God; and reprimanding clergy who are acting faithfully.  There three Vicars who in recent time have left the Church because of their revulsion at current Church policy. Excellent men leaving to join the Free Evangelical Church. Who were devoted men of God, cast aside by their superiors who couldn’t accept their sincere beliefs.   

     In every service conducted in an Anglican Church the Apostles Creed is recited which states, ‘I believe in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried, he descended into hell and on the third day he rose again from the dead.

     In the Nicene Creed recited in the service of Holy Communion, we say, ‘I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.’

     Why in consideration of these facts, do we have even Archbishops and Bishops acting  contrary to what is laid down? The Virgin Birth is not accepted by many.

An Archbishop of Wales stated we could not expect people to believe the resurrection story. A bishop once stated the resurrection was a story about a bag of bones, and when he was being consecrated in York Minster, the Church went on fire. Sixteen senior Meteorologists stated there was no scientific explanation and THEY concluded it had to be an act of God.

The Archbishop of Canterbury stated in 2013 when same sex marriage was first debated, that such could be accepted alongside traditional form of marriage. This is completely against that defined by God.

The Archbishop of York told a member of the clergy if he believed in the bible teaching on sexuality, there was no place for him in the Church of England.

The previous Archbishop of York said he couldn’t sleep at night because of the thought of people having conversion therapy. (the practice of people who regretted their changing their sexuality reverting back). This means your local Minister cannot pray or give you advice.  The Archbishop didn’t ’seem to have disturbance when people went the other way. 

The Bishop of Newcastle got all worked up in Synod, when she thought of ‘people who hadn’t done anything wrong’ having such therapy.

The Bishop of Liverpool was raving on about how proud he was of being at the head of Liverpool’s gay pride march.

We had a woman bishop, who despite the words of Jesus, said God was a woman.

The House of Bishops created special liturgy for people who transgendered and wanted to be baptized in the different gender, contravening the Creed, and the God given order of creation .

     What in effect is being stated by such Church actions, is that the Ministers of his Church believe God got his whole order of creation wrong, Non-believers may be justified in believing so, but Ministers of the Church, especially leaders can’t be.

     I could go on, but what a catalogue of such action by men and women in high places.  Could you imagine an Army being led by Generals who were colluding with the opposition?

     Could you imagine the outburst of shareholders if the directors of Tesco were to suggest their products were inferior to those of Waitrose?

     The Church is to teach biblical doctrine and proclaim how God intends us to live, to teach what is true, and make us realize what is wrong in life. We preach that perfection of life can only be obtained by people turning to Jesus Christ, who alone can bring us close to God, for there is salvation in no other name under heaven by which we may be saved. Jesus is the only way to the Father.  This is the teaching of the Bible, the complete manual of how God wants us to act.

     Whilst social issues are part of the Church’s mission, they are for attention at times out of the main service times, which is for spiritual teaching.  The Bible states after Pentecost, the Apostles met and stated they would put others in charge of social matters, so they could spend their time in prayer, preaching and teaching.  This was at a time when social services were not even thought of being.

      It is good and commendable that we can play a part, but I fear some Churches are providing such to alleviate the need for biblical preaching.  A Church is to fulfil primarily people’s spiritual need, for only the Church can do that; they can go to many other places for other needs, but we have something special to offer and we should concentrate on giving that.

      A Church is also to provide for fellowship where believers can share and uphold each other.  Just as an earthly father likes his children to visit him, so our heavenly Father loves his spiritual children to visit him, and show their concern and love for him by visiting his home  There will be times when we are not able to do so but whilst we can we should.

       If we are to halt the ever decreasing number of people leaving the Church, we must concentrate on our essential function and get back to the Bible.

      I have concentrated on the Church of England because I am a Church of England minister, so ethically and morally I should not refer to other Churches, but I suggest much of what I have stated will apply to other denominations.  Indeed, the once large Methodist Church with its great legacy of John and Charles Wesley, is due to be debating this month. whether to allow same sex marriages in the churches. John Wesley, as he set out in his sermon on Romans 1, would have much to say about that idea.

     I have been privileged to be allowed to take services in the Methodist Church, and became very fond of doing so, meeting many lovely people. It has a great tradition and the only English revival was made under the leadership of John and Charles. It grieves me to think of the many people of evangelical persuasion who I know will be upset, and will feel moved to leave if a decision to accept the motion is carried.  The Church of any name cannot afford to lose people of commitment.

 Now we pray

We pray for all the words that you have sown in our hearts this day. May they take root and produce the results you would wish for us.  Be with us as we walk our different ways and keep us alert to hear your words to us
We lift up our church leaders to You. We pray for our pastors and ministers, and ministry leaders.  in them. Inspire them to be faithful to Your Word.. We pray for humility as they lead, pouring out Your grace and generosity in them and through them.   Lord Jesus, compel us as a church to proclaim Your truth and preach Your gospel. Use Your Word to rebuke us, correct us and encourage us — and let us follow you as we hold each other accountable. Only You can give us great patience and the words to teach. We fully depend on You! Amen.

Thursday 24 June 2021


Mark 5 v.21/43

The Gospel passage for Sunday is from the 5th Chapter of Mark, beginning at verse 21, where Jesus is crossing to the side of the lake where he had become popular.  A great crowd had gathered when one of the Jewish rulers approached Jesus.

Jairus was a ruler of the Synagogue, and as such he was a powerful man in the community, so he was both respected and feared; he had authority to allow or bar any Jew from worship , and it would be a terrible feeling for not being allowed into the Synagogue.  But Jairus cherished his twelve years old daughter, and she became ill causing him to fear for her life.

This was a man who could have afforded the best medical attention then possible, but he sought Jesus.  This man would have regarded Jesus as  a dangerous heretic to whom the Synagogue was closed, but he put aside his prejudices and dignity, and threw himself at the feet of Jesus, which was a token of respect. It was a conscious effort to seek help.  He could have sent his servant out, but didn’t he went personally, and he got what he sought.

As Jesus began to go with Jairus he stopped to ask who had touched him.  You can imagine the tension Jairus must have felt, he was on his way with Jesus when this woman stopped them.

The woman had suffered a hemorrhage she discharged for a long time, she had tried all known remedies and spent all her money seeking help. She had a problem which was embarrassing, but went openly to Jesus in front of the crowd, but was reluctant to speak, so she touched the garment of Jesus.  He would be wearing a robe with four tassels, one in each corner.  This is what any devout Jew would wear to identify with God’s chosen people. Many people came to Jesus as a last resort, still do, but forget they can meet him any time in the pages of the Bible, and especially at a place of worship on Sunday.

The woman, because of her condition was ceremonially unclean and as such was not permitted to enter the women’s part of the Temple, nor should she be seen in public. By touching Jesus she technically   made him unclean, but Jesus is above and greater than any purity law, and he makes the woman clean by his power instead of becoming unclean himself.

Jesus sensed in himself some physical sensation in his body, that power had gone out of him, not by just being touched by someone, but being touched by someone who had faith in him that he could heal them.

It is a rule of life we will not produce anything great, without putting much of ourselves into what we are doing.  No great musician gets by with casual practice, they spend hours practicing.  No congregation will benefit unless the preacher, has spent time in preparation.  I have found and known a Minister spend five to ten minutes on a sermon, without ever mentioning Jesus or even referring to the Bible.

The disciples were not able to understand how Jesus could avoid being touched in such a crowd, so why worry trying to identify the person. They failed to recognize and realise how much it cost Jesus to heal someone.  It is a fact that we never fully appreciate the effects of something, until we have personal experience.

We see the relief of the woman when healed. It seemed so humiliating for her, yet when she told Jesus the truth, her fear and trembling were gone and relief flooded her heart. Having been on the fringe of the crowd, she finds herself welcomed into the family of God,  Jesus told her your faith has made you well, go in peace and be healed.

Our story moves on to the home of Jairus where people tell him it is too late, his daughter has died.  Jesus ignored them and told Jairus not to be afraid, just believe, his daughter was not dead. People mocked and scorned Jesus.  Again Jesus defines faith as an antidote to fear.   Faith comes into being, never allow what people say upset you. Jairus knew he faced a severe challenge in the face of death.

Jesus went into the house, and took only his inner circle of Peter and James.  The weeping and wailing reflected deep grief. The mourners were present and Jewish custom were vivid and detailed to stress the sense of desolation, and final parting to death.  It was customary to have professional wailers who could be hired for funerals.  The people were made to stay outside the house as they were a distraction, but allowed the girl’s parents to stay.

Touching a  dead person makes someone unclean, but again  Jesus overcomes uncleanness and the girl lives.  The amazement of the crowd did not however mean faith in Jesus, some refused to believe she had died.  Nothing surprising in that, people still will not believe no matter how hard you try.

We all have fears for the future, how our children will fare in life; worries about health, marriage or employment.  There is often a desire to seek the future, but the Bible is totally against that. We are afraid  of what we can’t see or know.  We can look back at the past and think ‘if only’, but the future is a blind spot. Only God knows our future and we have to leave all in his hands. The world is full of pain and trouble with the weak more numerous than the strong.

The two stories are of miraculous haling, and it is the purpose of God we should have spiritual health and spiritual life.  We see people claiming to be Christians who are living far from what God and Jesus intended.

We have just read of a woman at pain for twelve years, despite doing everything she could and tried to do, yet things only got worse.  God did not create us to suffer, but sin has brought much pain often to the most innocent who suffer most.

But we have also seen how different things are when Jesus is brought into the situation.  How many follow Jesus with the faith and determination of this woman. There are plenty, who see God and Jesus as useful to call upon when in trouble, but have no desire to call on him on a Sunday morning.

Many people may go to places of worship and call themselves Christians, but how many really are close to Christ?  Tradition, custom, habit, need of help, how many go home and live in faith and peace?

The moral of this story we are meant to understand, is that there is relief the gospel confers on souls. The experience of the woman in the story has been the same experience of many who approached Jesus with a humble heart and committed themselves in faith to his mercy, and the burden has eased, worry turned to joy and anxiety to peace.

We see how much it becomes Christians to make known the benefit they receive from Christ.  Each week in our Churches there are intercessions pleading for help and cure, but how many whom God answers remember to give thanks to Him.

There is a lesson here which all true Christians should remember. Never be ashamed to let it be known you are a proper Christian as opposed to a make believe one.  I have over the years, been amazed to find how many people do not want it known they attend Church, especially among men.  I have been pleaded with not to visit men in hospital, unless I go not disclosing by word or dress that I was a Minister, yet women have welcomed the ‘Vicar’ visiting.  If we find peace or help through Him, we should  let it be known.  If we are afraid to acknowledge Jesus now, we cannot expect Him to acknowledge us before God one day.

In conclusion, mark how precious a grace is faith.  Remember the words of Jesus, ‘woman thy faith has made thee well’.  Of all the graces mentioned in the Bible, faith is the one highly commended, for it brings glory to Christ.  Faith brings an empty hand and receives a full hand. By faith we live and overcome and have peace..  A question for all is, is my faith true and real; do I really believe?  The Christ who healed the sick woman and raised the dead daughter is the same Christ ready to save now.  Just one thing needful if we want salvation-faith

The Bible assures us that one day our Lord will return and call his faithful people from their graves, and give them new bodies, gathering all from North to South, east to West, we will meet our loved ones who fell  asleep in Jesus.  There is a glorious resurrection morning to come.

May God Bless you.

Monday 21 June 2021


Matthew 13 v, 24 /53

In to-day’s gospel reading, there are six parables included in this passage.  When Jesus was teaching He always took scenes from life which people could understand and then He applied this to convey a message.  Jesus is teaching about God’s Kingdom of which he is the King.  The parables contain a spiritual meaning to explain the truth.

When looking at a Bible passage it is helpful to consider three questions. What does it say; what does it mean; how does it relate to me?  I will take each of the parables to show what they are stating, and then apply the meaning.

The first parable is really a continuation of the parable of the Sower, which you heard last week.  I imagine it will cause some preachers more than a little difficulty in facing its teaching.

The farmer has sown wheat seeds, but an enemy came and sowed weeds amongst the wheat seed.   The weed was called darnel, a bitter poisonous weed which could cause serious consequences. When sown it so closely resembled wheat that it could not be recognised, and it was only when it began to grow that it became identified, and by that time the roots were intertwined so that to pull them up would disturb the good seed. Therefore it was not practicable to separate one without damaging the other, so the separation had to wait until harvest when the reapers would gather and pick the bad seed out and use it as fuel to burn on the fire. That is the story.

The meaning is that the farmer is our Lord; the good seed are those who gladly acknowledge Him as their Lord and Saviour. The weeds are those who are not followers of Jesus. There is no in between, you are inevitably either on the Lord’s side or if not, on the side of the evil one.  The field is the world; the harvest is at the end of the age; and the reapers are the angels, who will gather Christ’s people and make the separation.

What then is the explanation that affects us? We are reminded there is always the presence of hostile powers in the world seeking to destroy goodness.

This parable is not a discourse on farming, but rather the theme is that of separation and judgement. Jesus used imagery to deal with the reality of emphasising what can be for ever lost. Some people think that Jesus was just trying to frighten us, which raises the question is there something to be frightened of?

If you travel on major roads you will see signs warning of speed cameras, which infer a penalty if you drive over the limit.   There are also signs telling of the number of accidents and fatalities due to careless driving. Yes they are trying to frighten us, but they are also reminding us how close death can be and any sensible person will heed the warnings.

In verses  31/50 there are five parables all relating to the activity of the Kingdom of God

 The mustard seed was then the smallest of all seeds, but could grow to 10 feet high. It has branches that spread out in which birds could perch on.  Jesus was saying his Kingdom was like the mustard seed and its growth into a tree.  The Kingdom starts from that small land of Israel and has spread right across the world.

 Yeast is a symbol of growth, and as yeast spreads through a lump of dough, so the kingdom spreads through a believers life by the Holy Spirit.

 Jesus was meaning, if we believe in him, and accept that by his death on the cross our sins will be forgiven, we will have life in heaven with him. To the unbeliever that may not mean much, but it was the message taken by the Apostles in the small country of Israel 2000 years ago, and has for centuries spread across the world. Millions of men and women have devoted their lives to taking that message across the world, often making much personal sacrifice in doing so.

 The next story is of hidden treasure. In the Bible days there were no banks so people often buried treasurable items in the ground for safety.  Here a man is tending to a field when he comes across hidden treasure during the course of his daily work.  He realises the value, so he went to the owner of the land and bought the field having  sold all he owned to do so.

 The story of the pearl is of a merchant in the jewellery business, who knows there is in existence a pearl of great beauty and value. One day he found it, and he too sold his possessions to have that pearl.

 People can find Jesus in their everyday life, often by accident. By a message on a Church noticeboard, in conversation with a Christian, or some other chance event.. Other people will search for a Bible teaching Church, a much harder way these days, but will persist and there find the treasure they were looking for.

 The parables are telling the same truth that the kingdom is of such value we should strive to gain it.

Lastly is the story of the net.  A net was dragged across the water and collected different kinds of fish.  Those with scales on were classified as bad, and had to be separated from the rest. So the Church of God can contain people who are unworthy as well as the true believer, and we cannot discriminate. 

 The Church is for the whole world, and God wants all to be saved.  But the Bible teaches a time will come when Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats, the good from the bad.

 Jesus is here warning of the consequences of what faces us if we reject Him, and showing His love and care for us through the death He suffered at the Cross that we may be forgiven for all our wrongdoings..

Jesus always made it clear that this life is a preparation for eternity, and we face a choice now. He taught there were two roads in life, a broad one leading to destruction which many take, a narrow one leading to eternal life. There are two masters, Jesus and the devil; two destinies, heaven and hell.

To suggest hell is for many people, including clergy an anathema. There will be preachers this morning putting a completely different interpretation on this parable. But if we are keeping to the Bible’s word, there is no room for personal opinion or sensitivity.

Verse 42 clearly states, referring to the evil ones, ‘they will be cast into the fiery furnace.’ Jesus used this term elsewhere also to signify hell

People have various views of what happens when we die, we simply cease to exist; or a loving God would never send anyone to hell, everyone eventually ends up in heaven. It is true God will not send anyone to hell; people just make the choice for themselves by rejecting Jesus Christ.

In all the world there is only one source of authoritative information about the afterlife, and that is the Bible. Outside of the Bible, everything else is only speculation and wishful thinking. If we want to know what God has to say on this important topic, it is to the Bible we must go.

Turning first to consider the reality of heaven, on the night before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house where there were many mansions; the Bible states heaven is–God’s dwelling place where Christ is today and where Christians go when they die.

People don’t believe in it like we used to. They are all too busy making a living to worry about what happens after we die. To the unbeliever such words seem either sentimental or simply incredible. But to the one who accepts God’s Word at face value, they are nothing less than the sober truth.

We don’t talk about it nowadays, because it isn’t popular to suggest that unbelievers are tormented for all eternity for their sins. Yet the Bible teaches the eternal punishment of the wicked in many passages.

Those who fail to repent now and turn to Jesus may find out too late for remorse, too late to give your heart to Jesus.  The day will be long past.

Since some people scoff at the notion of an afterlife, let’s pause for a moment and ask why the Bible reveals heaven and hell to us. What do we gain by knowing about these things and why are they important to the Christian faith?

The Bible is given to us to answer all problems, as it is God’s way of telling us how to live and prepare for when we die. So many people believe we are all going to the same place, and I accept the Church has perpetuated that thinking, much to is discredit.

 Our Lord Himself told us there was a heaven and hell, two distinct places in order to right the wrongs of this life. Evil people cause so much harm and hurt, yet go unpunished and the perpetrators are set free to hurt others. Hell must exist, if for no other reason than to balance the scales of justice. God is a just god, and it is not credible that those who made life intolerable for others, often very cruelly, will be treated in the same way as those who lived worthily in accordance with out Lord’s teaching.

We constantly hear of people whose suffering seems to be overwhelming. It may be cancer or some other disease, it may be a broken marriage or a child in trouble, it may be financial disaster or trouble at work or at school. God’s people endure many hardships in this life. Most of the time, we can’t fully understand why God allows certain things to happen to us.

But we have this promise. When the books are opened and the scales are balanced, we will discover that the things we went through in this life are nothing compared with the glories of heaven.

It has been said, for the unbeliever, this life is the only heaven they will ever know. For the believer, this life is the only hell we will ever know.

Each person must make an intelligent and informed decision about heaven and hell. If what I have said is true, then you must do whatever it takes to make sure you go to heaven 
and you must make sure at all costs that you do not go to hell.

Sometimes we are ready to think a person is a wonderful Christian when in fact they may well not be, and on the other hand wrongly condemn someone. Judgement must wait for the harvest, when we will be judged not anyone aspect of our life, so much as our whole life.

It is often thought that the fact a person attended a Church and was accepted as a Christian would automatically be at the Messianic banquet, but the Bible makes it clear that is not necessary so. Many Church people these days live lives which do not measure up to what the Bible expects. Indeed, there are preachers who are living and supporting ways which are so totally against the teaching of Scripture. Judgement however is in the hands, and at the mercy of God, who alone knows the secrets of all our hearts.

Let’s go back one more time to the words of Jesus Christ. When Thomas asked him the way to heaven, Jesus gave this answer: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. Those words are clear; it is not enough to have a casual approach to Christ, there has to be a firm commitment to believe and act according to His teaching.

The way to heaven is as narrow as the Cross. Only those who trust Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord will enter the gates of heaven.
It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. By the same token, the road to heaven is paved with the blood of Christ. Let us all be assured we are on the right road. 

 The chapter ends with Jesus asking his disciples if they understood what he had  taught them, and they answered that  they had.  Jesus went on to talk about the scribes, or teachers of the Jewish Law, bringing out of his house old and new possessions. He is pointing out that they, the disciples, had joined him knowing the law, but had then learned all he had taught them. The scribes knew only the law and had not received his teaching.

 We are all given some gift by God or some talent, and we do not need to stop using it by coming to serve him. We can go on using it, and many sportsmen, especially in America, have gone public to tell of how their lives and ability, has been advanced through their Christian beliefs.  Politicians in the United States are forthright in acknowledging their faith, sadly in the United Kingdom our politicians don’t do God at all, they just make laws which offend him.

 Jesus the moved on when he had ended his teaching and went to his own town at Nazareth. He had difficulty there as the people knew him and had difficulty in accepting who he really was and the people were to a degree prejudiced against him and his message.

 When we meet together for worship we should do so with a readiness to listen to the preacher. I know there are problems in that listening to some preaching is an endurance test, but as time has gone on I regret to say that any preaching which goes against prevailing culture is likely to raise objection. Pray that your preacher will be faithful to his/her calling. and will tell to the best of their ability keep to the theme, that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.

 If you attend a Church where the Bible is not taught, you need to look for a church where it is. We are call to meet together for the purpose of worship, I think it is going to take some time to get back to the situation of two years ago as the pandemic has kept a lot of people from attending.  Modern technology does enable us to partake of worship by television and by streaming from local churches.

 The United States has some exceptional worshipping churches in evangelical style which attracts (literally) thousands in the congregation and are well worth watching.

 May God bless you and care for you.

Friday 18 June 2021

 MATTHEW 13 . V 1/23

This Chapter is divided into three parts in which Jesus is referring in Matthew’s terms to the Kingdom of heaven, or to the Kingdom of God which Mark and Luke call it. John does not tell this story

The parables are meant to be a spur towards decision and challenge people to think.  In verses 1-9 Jesus gives the parable of the Sower, and then interprets it in verses 18/23. Two sequel parables end the chapter.

 Jesus we are told sat by the sea, which would be the Sea of Galilee, and sitting was the normal position for teachers. The ministry of Jesus up to this point had been in Synagogues, but now he has gone into the open air.  There was a natural amphitheatre in a horseshoe   shape, and when the crowd got too great He went into a boat.

Jesus used parables as a means of communicating truth in a way which could easily be understood, in order to teach a moral or spiritual lesson.

There is a good lesson for preachers here.  Jesus always used words and examples which enabled people to grasp and understand.  There is no purpose in using words normal people would not use, or examples which complicate matters.  The interest of a story is vital to a listener and cause him/her to reflect.

   In Palestine the fields were in long narrow strips, and the ground between strips was a footpath used by people. In verses 4/7 Jesus tells that the seed was scattered in all directions, and whilst the farmer walked up and down, some would accidentally fall on the hard (foot)paths and the birds would eat them up. Some fell on ground which was uneven and rocky, covered only by a thin layer of soil, and would not root properly, especially when the sun would burn them up. Others would fall among thorns, which choked out other plants, which could not get the nutrients to bear fruit. This meant there was an uneven yield. But seed also fell on fertile ground and would provide a good yield.

When the disciples asked Jesus why He spoke in parables, He told them outsiders cannot understand what He said, ‘but you my disciples, can for you know me’. Jesus was in effect saying the truth about Christianity is that you have to be a Christian; you cannot understand the faith from the outside, you have to be inside, and for people to criticise our faith who are not Christians, is pure arrogant ignorance.`

    The Kingdom of Heaven was a mystery to be given to the disciples, but not to the unconverted crowd The manifestation of the kingdom was only just beginning at that time, in advance of its coming at the end of the age. The Kingdom of Heaven, also referred to as Kingdom of God, is the spiritual realm where God reigns, such as in the lives of all who have accepted Jesus as saviour.

 God uses a parable to either harden a person’s heart so they could not understand, or to gains a person’s response to follow Jesus and accepting his message.  Jesus quoted Isaiah, who was bewildered after he gave a message which he thought would be so clear to people, yet they did not understand it.

 Every preacher finds himself in a similar position. Something is explained in a compelling way, yet people will not accept it. Isaiah despaired and felt as if he was talking to a wall. It was part of Jewish belief that absolutely nothing happened in this world beyond the will of God. Isaiah took it therefore that failure was the ultimate purpose of God who would use things for His glory.

 Jesus wanted to encourage His disciples that someday they would fully understand what God was doing, and those who rejected Jesus and His message, would one day find it had been taken to a vastly bigger number in the Gentiles. This often happens in our experience when we think something was largely a waste of time when in fact what we have said takes effect in a way which we may never know.

I had a Vicar friend who was once quite demoralised after preparing a sermon diligently, and found the reception disheartening. Some years later he was passing through a village some distance from his parish, and went into a shop where the owner recognised the Vicar and said how much he had benefited from that sermon.

 The greatest impact you may have in this world may be when you have left it.  Your faith, or lack of it, will fall on those who follow you. The greatest music writers like Mozart and Bach, never knew the way their music was played worldwide for years, and still after their death.

 I once took a funeral of a young lawyer who died as a result of depression believing he had been a failure.  People in the legal profession respected him so highly that barristers sent handwritten letters to his family saying how much the profession had lost such  talent.

 Jesus then went on to say the one who has much more will be given. In every walk of life, the one who has a lot will get more. Some students will work hard at their studies and will become more knowledgeable than those who neglect their study, and their grasp of their subject will weaken.

A pianist who practises regularly will become more talented, but one who only plays occasionally will be less able. If neglect of things is bad, wilful neglect is worse, such as when people deliberately turn away from listening to our Lord’s teaching.

 Jesus then gave an explanation of the parable. The seed which fell on solid ground represents the people with hearts which are hardened against it, such in Jesus case were the Pharisees, the evil one Satan enters their heart and they reject what they hear. We liken this to the many who see religion as believing in fairy tales and brashly mock it away.

The seed falling on rocky ground is like the one who hears and responds immediately and then quickly falls away. This is like those who went to a Billy Graham Crusade and responded to the altar call, touched by the wonderful preaching, the singing of the massed choirs, but then went back to their parish and found the contrast too hard to accept and so fell away. The seed had not gained root,

The seed falling among thorns is like the one who is attracted by the Word of God, but is tempted by the lure of the world’s values and finds them hard to resist.

 The good seed is likened to those who are ready to hear and respond to the gospel which enriches life.

This is a parable of encouragement with the lesson being that the harvest is sure. Every farmer expects some failure, and we must in seeking souls expect the same, but like the farmer we must not stop sowing for we can be sure also that we will bear some fruit, however much less than we would like.

May God bless you in all your endeavours for His glory


Thursday 17 June 2021


MARK. CHAPTER 3, verses 13/35

The passage begins with Jesus choosing his Apostles.

A time had come for Jesus to consider how his message could be continued after he returned to heaven, and how to spread the gospel.  He chose men who he knew would faithfully ensure his message would be carried on, as they were trusted followers.  All that was needed they possessed, full belief in Jesus and conviction of his teaching.

The Apostles were a unique group of men specially chosen by Jesus under God’s guidance, and have no successors.

When the family of Jesus heard what He had planned to do, they thought he had lost his mind.  He was leaving a secure occupation as a carpenter for a future into the unknown,  In addition, he was going to face fierce opposition and confrontation from the powerful Jewish leadership; no one would have faced the Pharisees and get away with it. Consequently the family wondered why he would take such a risk.

The Jewish leaders visited Jesus from Jerusalem and accused him of being possessed of the devil.  The Jewish leadership accepted Jesus’ power to drive out demons, but said he was the prince of demons and in charge of them and exercising black magic.  Jesus tried to explain to them in parables, using as an illustration if you face a strong man you first tie him up so that he won’t harm you.

 Jesus stated a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. He knew their thoughts, for the aim is to divide God’s kingdom. Abraham Lincoln, prior to the disastrous civil war in the United States, realised the meaning of Jesus’ Words when he referred to the division being caused when one part of the country wanted slavery to continue, and the other part opposed it.


Likewise. Jesus referred to a family or house divided. A family living together beneath one roof, if there is no harmony and agreement between members of the household, it is impossible for that house to be successful. Children seeing father and mother fighting, may take sides for one or the other, and so cause division. The aim of political activists is to destroy the family principle, for a family is a basic foundation of life.

.Jesus said anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit is making an unforgiveable accusation.  People could by virtue of Jesus death on the Cross be forgiven of their sin, but to attribute to Satan that which is in the power of God, in other words the Spirit’s testimony is satanic, such a person could never be forgiven for they are guilty of eternal sin.


Teaching is often given attacking the doctrine of eternity in hell on the basis that God is a God of love, and would therefore not make such a committal.  Jesus told there was a choice, and in parables gave example of two places, heaven and hell, and he always quoted the two s alternatives. God indeed would not want to send anyone to hell. But he allows us to choose ourselves to go there by disobeying his Word and rejecting Jesus as Savior.  Be careful which eternity you choose. Let nothing turn you from the narrow road on to the crowded broad one. 

When Jesus mother and brothers arrived where Jesus was teaching, they asked someone to bring him out to them. Jesus was told they were waiting for him, but he just looked at the people around him, and said they were his mother and brothers, meaning he wanted to have an earthly family, emphasizing that he had to give priority to his mission to the people of faith, and said whoever does the will of God is my mother , brother and sister.  All true believers will listen to these last words of Jesus.  We may not be worldly rich, not should be ashamed when we hear Jesus say all who do the will of God are part of his family.

The above is an exposition of the passage, we need to consider how the Church relates to it now.

 The names of these men, fishermen and men without a degree amongst them, are known to millions of people twenty one centuries later.  They were entrusted by our Lord to spread the gospel, and left us with the New Testament which contains their teaching.

There are no Apostles now, they were a unique band of men formed for a specific purpose of spreading the gospel, and creating unity of Christians. It is often stated that the Bishops are the successors of the Apostles, but there is no such things as Apostolic succession.

The Apostles would not countenance that which is accepted by the Churches now. Ministry should be modelled on them, and all preaching based on what they taught. How we need such type of men now.

But apart from their convictions they were brave and full of courage, leaving their occupations to follow Jesus into the unknown, for Jesus was not offering security.  In addition they were opposing powerful men so putting themselves in further danger.

The followers of Jesus were ready to trust the power of God to protect them. We have to venture forth in the same trust, as the opposition is beyond human power to contain.  The forces against us have their supporters in the judiciary, media and politicians.

 What a contrast to those men and now women with fancy titles and vestments, who cannot fully support the gospel they gave, and called on fellow Christians to boycott a mission led by one the most prominent preachers in the world, just because he didn’t support same sex marriage. That preacher hosts meetings which attract thousands of people. I wonder how many (or few) those bishops who called for his boycott attract.

Church leaders are actively calling for Biblical teaching to be abandoned, to avoid causing ill-feeing amongst those who cannot accept it.  Collusion was openly admitted in the House of Lord by a Bishop, that the Church of England was working closely with an activist group.

The Apostles were all converted to the faith before being chosen, and it is vital that such is an essential qualification for all men and women who enter Holy Orders. Yet we have in Ministry those who are not full believers. How can any person preach about a Savior if he/she only knows Jesus by name.  Such only causes Christianity to be injured. Too often Ministry is seen as a soft but a respectable profession with a good style of living. That would never be an Apostles view.

There has been division within the Church from the very beginning, Paul fought it valiantly and constantly, men wanting to impose their ideas and desires when the Bible did not contain them. Preachers are still teaching it is acceptable to act in ways which the Bible explicitly condemns, and trying to force the Church to embrace.

In the Church today, there are those who want to follow a liberal agenda which avoids biblical truth, and causes people to fall a way, whilst the other half is loyal to God, and wants to be faithful to His Word.

But division can be caused in other ways. Controversial issues arise in political matters, and as only 6% of Church leaders chose to support a Conservative government, and made left wing views known, in contrast to the nation’s rejection of such views, such is not helpful. 

A faithful Minister has to seek to care for the unwell and alleviate sorrow, and should avoid becoming partisan in controversial subjects which cause division.

The division of Christians is a great weakness of the Church, yet it never seems to end.  Jesus knew there would be a constant struggle between the forces of sin and evil against the power of God, which Paul emphasized to Timothy, advising him that as messengers of God we do not have a spirit of timidity.

 What kind of Church can progress with God’s blessing, when a faithful Minister feels obliged to resign because an Archbishop tells him there is no place in the Church for him if he insists of preaching biblical sexuality?

An article in the prestigious newspaper the Telegraph suggests

‘Out of touch bishops are pushing the church to ruin’.

 The woke liberals we have would have apoplexy at the Apostles beliefs.

During the Brexit negotiations bishops were politically active, and as most had left-wing sympathies, antagonized other persuasions, suggesting they were stupid.


The Bishop of St.David’s made her views abundantly clear when she was quoted as saying, ‘all Tories are liars’; ‘never trust a Tory’; she was ashamed of people lacking moral fibre, for voting Tory’, yet praising the most extreme Socialist leader. With such statements it should have been plainly obvious to anyone with even limited intelligence, that a lot of people are going to be upset when the ‘Tories’ were so overwhelmingly popular in the nation. Consequently, the Church gets a bad name unnecessarily.

If she, or any other clergy of whatever rank or Office wish to publicly give their political statements in such offensive way, they should seek to get nominated by whichever political Party they are shouting for, otherwise stick to the day job..

Ministers at all levels should accept people will have different political views, it is called democracy, and whilst we as clergy may reveal our personal views directly or indirectly, we should avoid causing division by confining our preaching to the gospel. (for the information of those of other nations, a Tory is one who votes Conservative or have a right wing political opinion)

Like the Apostles, a faithful Minister must be able to preach, which is the principal *work for him/her.  This is above all other sacraments in the Church of Christ, otherwise it is like a lighthouse without a light or a trumpeter with a silent trumpet.  He/she must oppose anyone or any teaching, wherever it comes from if it contradicts the Bible.  This shows how important a Minister must speak truthfully, without fear of favor if we are to drink from the same cup as our Lord.

Churches live, grow and flourish by the Word of God, and wilt and fail when they don’t follow. Bible teaching demands nothing is more important for the life and growth of the Church .

The world famous preacher John Stott once stated that preaching is indispensable to Christianity, and without it a necessary part of its authenticity is lost. Christianity is in its very essence a religion of the Word of God.  The greatest single secret of spiritual development lies in the personal, humble, believing response to the Word of God.  It is as if God speaks to us through his Word that his warnings can bring us to conviction of sin, and his promise to assurance of forgiveness and his commands to amendment of life.  We are to grow by his Word.

Christian ministry can be the most rewarding of occupations, but in to-day’s environment it can also be depressing for a man/woman who is sincere and committed to fulfil the purpose of the Church, as laid down by our Lord, namely preach the gospel.

Any Minister at any time from the most innocuous situation will find him/herself criticized sometimes aggressively by someone who think they know better. A lot of Ministers are of gentle nature and easily upset, I have seen many reduced to tears.  Others of us who have faced the rough and tumbles of life are more able to deal with such aggravation and find when such people attack, they don’ expect any comeback and escape as soon as possible if asked to define their words. Often it is a case of someone wanting to be ‘respected and recognized.’


When Jesus departed this earth, he gave his Apostles those famous last words as his great commission for them. Let us bear them in mind and faithfully try to obey and carry them out.