Friday 26 August 2022


JOHN 14. V 1-14

I am the way, the truth, the life

The passage I have chosen to speak to you about this morning, is one of the best known passages in the New Testament, even to non- Church people, and contains words which are so relevant to Christian living and belief.         

Jesus was spending His last night with the Apostles in what is known as the Upper Room, for the Last Supper. Judas was about to betray Him, and when Judas had left, Jesus told the remaining Apostles that the time for Him to be glorified had come. 

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, and believe also in me.                                                                                                  

What Jesus meant by this was, this was the last time He would speak to them before He was to die.  His glory is that He is on His way to the Cross, His work on this earth is over, and the crucifixion will also bring glory to the Father.  It is the end of a close relationship of three years, and time to say goodbye. Jesus uses the word believe, meaning them to have a personal, relational trust. 

He told them they were to believe in Him, as well as God. Most people believe in God, but have less thought for Jesus.  He was putting Himself alongside God, and wanted them to trust Him and maintain a personal relationship.

Jesus was speaking to His disciples shortly before going to the Cross, teaching and giving guidance, and that same teaching is passed down for the benefit of all Christians throughout the ages. Jesus had told them He was going to leave them for He was going on a journey He had to take alone. 

The Apostles were devastated at the thought.  Perhaps you can imagine their feelings, if you reflect on how people feel when a Minister they are happy with, suddenly tells them that he is moving to another Church.  This invariably causes sadness, unless there is a poor relationship.  I have experienced this on three occasions in ministry, and it is hard to disassociate oneself completely; it can be quite sad as friends part, and will not met again in this world.    ,

The heart is the seat of all our emotions, and when that is upset, it affects thoughts and actions and causes personal disturbance. Jesus wanted to reassure them He was not forsaking them. 

He said, in my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so would I have told you I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may also be.  And you know the place to where I am going.   He was meaning heaven, and He was going to prepare a place for them.  This meant there was the prospect of living for ever with Him there.

When Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for them, this was referring to the fact He was going to the Cross to die for the forgiveness of sins for all people.

When Jesus said they knew the place where He was going, Thomas asked Him how they could know when they didn’t know the way.  This brought forth from Jesus that profound immortal statement, I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

When Jesus says,  I am the way, He is meaning there is just no other way  we can know God.

 Some time ago I went to Birmingham and had to find an address.  I asked a man walking on a road if he could tell me the way, and he answered, ‘it is pretty difficult for you to get there on your own, but I am going that way and could take you’.  He got into my car and we went directly there.  That is what Jesus does for us.  He says you can’t get there on your own, but I will direct you, guide you, and take you myself.  He is saying there is no other way.  This is an exclusive offer.

This statement of Jesus is not generally liked, as it is seen as being too restrictive, too bigoted and intolerant, and to be judgmental is not liked.  Consequently, some clergy will not quote it, whilst others just will not accept it.  Frankly, I think if any man/woman does not accept this verse, then they should not be allowed to preach, for they are betraying the Lord who said it, and the Church which they serve.

Jesus said I am the truth.  If a person is to teach moral truth, that person must have an impeccable reputation, and have no hidden misdoings.  Only Jesus can claim moral perfection, which is why He can say ‘I am the truth’.

Thirdly Jesus says I am the life, meaning the opposite of death.  He is the source of life and gives life to His own.  Just as death means separation from life.   

Jesus then states I am in the Father and the Father is in me. There is a complete mutual indwelling of the Father and Son. Jesus went on to say, I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask for in my name, this I will do that the Father may be glorified.  This suggests that we can pray directly to Jesus, but other biblical verses encourage us to pray to God. We must accept He was God’s representative here on earth; He saved, He is the way to God, He gives life.


Let us reflect on this great passage.

It is widely quoted in funeral services, when people assume that everyone is automatically going to heaven.  I have taken hundreds of funerals over the years, and there has never been doubt in anyone’s mind, that the deceased is going to heaven irrespective of the life led. I find it truly amazing how so many people know of it. If they were to be asked who Jesus was, it would be interesting to hear their answer. Indeed, to ask many people who Jesus was, I am sure they could not give an acceptable answer, including Church members. For so many people ‘Jesus' was just a swear word, and a lot of children would only know it as such. This is why the Church should be telling, He was the most important man who ever lived.

Jesus once asked Peter, ‘who do you, say I am?’ Peter gave the answer that pleased Jesus, when Peter recognised Jesus as the Christ the Son of the living God. Think what you would say if asked that question, it is not so easy as you may imagine.

Jesus was the Son of God, and time has been set by the time of His birth through the centuries, as before and after His birth. It is a fact of history that He died on a Cross, and three days later was seen risen from the dead by numerous witnesses.  Other faiths have leaders, but only Christianity has a Saviour.

 Whilst it may be comforting to believe that we can all get to heaven regardless of one’s beliefs, and we like to please our fellow men and women, it is quite cruel to mislead if it is not true.  It is like telling a blind person standing on the sidewalk of a major road it is safe for him to cross when ready.  If we say to someone who has no Church commitment, has only a tenuous belief in Jesus Christ, never reads a Bible or prays, that they are going to heaven, we are leading them astray. Jesus made this quite clear in the Bible, for whenever He spoke of heaven, He spoke of hell; of sheep and goats, of tares an wheat.

Others say if you just follow your conscience you’ll be fine, but consciences become dulled and hardened.  Taking the lead from politicians, people can look you in the eye and lie without any qualm of conscience.

In this passage before us He is talking to His followers, people who have made a personal commitment to accept Him as Saviour.  This is why it is so important for each person to make his/her own decision, whether to follow Jesus in His teaching, commands and demands.

The Bible is all about commitment. We are reminded of the superficiality of commitment in our own time.  Less than 10% of people think God worthy of one hour per week to visit a Church.  Yet if you were to ask people their religion, the vast majority would reply C of E and seriously consider they were Christians.  They would be mortally offended if you suggested otherwise. Very few people seem bothered to think of Jesus, even less to do anything about it.

It is easy to say I am a Christian, 95% of the population today believe as long as you are honest, kind and helpful to others and do no harm, or you have another faith, you are a fully-fledged Christian. Jesus speaks firmly and rather profoundly, when He says not all who think they are to enter the Kingdom of heaven will in fact do so.

If you want to go to stay at a hotel in some foreign country, you invariably go to a travel agent who arranges everything for you, and when you arrive at the hotel, they have a reservation waiting. You cannot just turn up because you think you are entitled to stay there without some preparation. Likewise, you cannot expect a place in heaven, without the preparation of accepting that Jesus gave his life on The Cross to save mankind from their sins, and that includes you.

 In every action of life, we are confronted with a choice, where we must make a decision to do one thing or another.  Jesus confronted us with a hard or an easy way.  He makes uncompromising and tough demands of commitment, which many people cannot take, and are not prepared to commit.     Then as now, some are ready to listen and walk with Him, learning to depend on Him, whilst others are just occasional supporters. 

The Church in general in its desire to be nice and friendly to all, with a craving to please society in general, has not always given sound teaching on this; there is no blank promise. and if we do not follow Him, our end will not be in the rooms of His Father’s house.

It can be hard to be a Christian in this country at the present time, and many find the going too hard and strenuous, and the opposition oppressive.  We have come to a state in this country now, where a Christian person may not express a personal view based on sincere religious belief, if it might offend someone    Any open expression of our faith is likely to lead to suspension or dismissal from work, and even the most innocuous adverse comment upon human behaviour will raise hysterical shouts of phobia or bigotry. There is so much harassment of Christians, which is not reported here, and you have to listen to the American news channels to discover what is going on in this country.       

I cannot understand how we can share in multi-faith worship and maintain Biblical integrity.     Whilst I believe we should respect other faiths and try to live amicably with them, in view of the unique teaching of our Lord, that He alone is the way to God, we cannot justify sharing in multi faith services when our beliefs are so different, and it is matter of recognising the unique authority of Jesus.  Only Christianity maintains that Jesus Christ as divine and salvation was earned by Jesus on the Cross.  Jesus is quite unequivocal.

It is widely claimed, erroneously, that we all worship the same God, and all religions have the same way to heaven.  Islam worships ‘Allah’ and see Jesus as a good man in the social sense, or a prophet at best.   Indeed, the Islamic faith states, ‘God has no son’, which is in direct contravention of Jesus’ nature.    We should each respect the right of the other in their belief, and try to live peacefully together.

I do admire the devotion and loyalty of Islam. Muslims are Muslims in the full sense of the word, and they find difficulty in understanding how  Christians reject their faith so completely.  Why, on the Lord’s birthday so many get drunk and engage in orgies. They will fight and defend their faith, and the men will not feel embarrassed or ashamed to be seen going to worship. Put many Englishmen in a Church and they feel lost and disorientated.

It is a common perception these days that religious thoughts should not be expressed in public arena.  Christians have gone along with this and divided their lives into two spheres, spiritual and secular.

We are accused of being narrow minded and improper for bringing up our children as believers, and if we should commit the ultimate crime, of suggesting our faith influences how and what we teach them, and object to them being asked if they thinking they are of the right gender, we are of course a multiple of phobias. We are allowed to visit the sick and care for the poor as long as don’t mention praying for them.    

Jesus warns us that there must be a clear acceptance of His teaching, and total obedience to it.  Just to recite a creed and attend Church is not enough. We honour Jesus by calling Him Lord, and sing hymns expressive of our devotion to Him.  The lips that sing His praise should never be the lips that challenge Holy Scripture. 

The temptation for us, as Christians, is to say what makes us popular.  Too many preachers have forgotten about being authentic; about being true to the Gospel we have been entrusted with by our Lord; to be true to our values, and to proclaim them without embarrassment and fear. 

The Bible tells us we must contend for the faith once given to  Christians.  The faith once given means the faith that which was given by the Apostles who had been taught by Jesus and which was blessed by God when the Church was first established.  Let this be the faith we adopt and believe and not that now being re-interpreted to suit modern culture.  Our faith is not something someone made up, it is historical and spiritual fact.

     May God bless His Word to us and enable us to give our service to Him                                                                                                    

Saturday 20 August 2022


MATTHEW 5 V 1-12

A lot of people consider the Beatitudes, which are the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, are a description of the Christian faith. Whilst they are a central part of Christianity, that is being rather too restrictive.

In this sermon I am using the New Living Translation of the Bible, and using simpler words to help those, who are perhaps reading of the story for the first time, to understand what Jesus was really saying.

Jesus was being followed by a crowd as he reached Capernaum from Galilee, and seeing the crowd, Jesus went up the mountain, and sat down to allow his disciples to join him. He sat down, which was the custom of a Rabbi to teach the crowd, religious leaders, and give instructions to his disciples, concerning life in the Kingdom of God.

 The passage opens in some Bibles with the words, ‘he opened his mouth’, which meant Jesus beginning to teach in a grave and dignified manner, and is opening His heart and mind to the men who will become His disciples.  Followers of Billy Graham will know he so often spoke of the heart as the centre of life, holding our emotions, directing our thoughts, and our hearts.

The Beatitudes, are recorded in the Bible by Matthew and Luke, to mark the beginning of Jesus' public teaching ministry. I have chosen to follow Matthew’s account, and whilst it varies slightly from Luke’s version, that is attributable to personal way of telling, and is in no way casting a doubt of the event. Each beatitude has three parts, a term of blessedness, to whom it is applied, and the reason for it being given.

The eight actions begin with the word blessed, which in some modern versions of the bible has become ‘happy.’ I think that was unfortunate, for it is misguiding to a person not familiar with the Bible to read, ‘happy are those who are poor.’ A person can be blessed and be happy at being so, but a happy person may not suitably be blessed. To be blessed,  is to be in a state of well-being in relationship with God,  and has a sense of divine aid, and has the godly joy of walking in the presence of Jesus, and Is to those who responded to the ministry of Jesus.  

The disciples were those who had made  commitment to accept Jesus as the Messiah.  They were joined by the curious who had heard of Jesus, for news of Jesus had spread.  Some were uncommitted, others were astounded by his teaching.


  V3 God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

 Jesus would not bless someone living in poverty, but is referring to a poverty of spirit, which leads to an inability to use one’s own resources. and know they need God to help them, so put their trust in God.   Such a man/woman can put all helplessness in God’s hands, and will know that God cand bring help.

 There is nothing good in poverty, Jesus would never have blessed people whose lives were in poor living, and were short of food and necessities. Abraham Lincoln stated that God must have loved the poor, because he made so many of them, and the gospel message was there to help them remove any misfortune.

Some of the people listening to Jesus must have been spellbound, for he was saying things which seemed to be the opposite of life as they knew it. He was saying the rich and  Important people were not the well-off, it was the poor, the mournful, persecuted , hungry and thirsty who were.    

V4 God blesses those who mourn for they will be comforted 

Those who are desperately sorry for the sorrow and suffering in this world      .One who is in bitter sorrow, and is mourning the dead. Someone who has care for  another who is in sorrow and suffering.  The blessedness is on one whose heart is suffering for his/her own sins, for out of their own sorrow will find the joy of God.

 V5 God blesses those who are humble for they shall inherit the earth

Someone who has his/her instincts and passions under control; who has compassion and the humility to know their own weakness and own need.   Who willingly is tolerant without resentment, and doesn’t take offence easily.  Ready to wait for goodness. Those who do not try to make themselves as better than others to further their own agenda, and will inherit the earth because trust in God to direct events, and is in control of own emotions. Who has the humility to realize his/her own weakness.

 V6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice for they shall be satisfied

To have a desire to be entirely confirmed to the mind of God, and long above all else, to be holy.  They recognized God is the source of all righteousness, so they long for God’s righteous character to be alive to people on earth. They shall be satisfied by responding to his invitation to be in worship with him.

 V7 God blesses those who are merciful for they shall receive mercy

This is a principle which runs through the whole of the New Testament. The gentle folk who do not try to assert themselves over other people.    One who has full compassion for others. Have pity for all suffering and want to do good for people, and they will get rich reward.  The kindness and mercy shown to them they will share with others.

 V8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure for they shall see God

 who pursue purity and uprightness on every area of life, for they will see the fulfilment in God.  Jesus stated that purity pf heart was most important.  They aim not for outward correctness, but inner holiness. Don’t seek external show, and try not to give offence, and will serve God with spirit, and have God at heart.

 V9 God blesses those who work for peace for they shall be called the children of God

Those who pursue God’s peace will gain reward of being called sons and daughters of God, for they will reflect the character of their heavenly Father.  They strive for peace, and to produce charity,  they want people to love and care for each other, by teaching the gospel that love is the fulfilling of the law. They will make proper relationships between themselves and other men and women, for they are doing a godly work.  

 V10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right for the kingdom of heaven is theirs

Those who are laughed at, scorned  and threatened. Persecuted and wrongly accused because of their faith.  God is pleased when his people show they value him above all others in this world, and this happens when we courageously remain faithful  amidst opposition for righteousness sake.

 V 11/12 God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all evil things about you because you are my followers Be happy about it. Be very glad for a great award awaits you in heaven. Remember the ancient prophets were treated in the same way.

Those who were reviled, just as Jesus who experienced opposition and persecution, his disciples can expect the same reward . This reward may not come on earth, but it will surely be theirs. Throughout history beginning with Cain’s slaughter of Abel, they persecuted the prophets.

 Matthew’s phrases show how essential to the teaching of Jesus. It should however, be realized the Beatitudes were given to Jesus’ disciples, to describe a way of life which is addressed to, and only possible for the committed Christian.’

 How many times I wonder, have I heard it said if people only followed the sermon on the mount the Church would find a world of love and peace.  This is sometimes said by people who want to bypass other parts of Scripture, which makes them uncomfortable, especially to their consciences. Do all those people actually live the teaching of the sermon?  Two thousand years have passsed since this sermon was delivered.  When all people claiming to be Christians accept, practice and fully live sound doctrine, then we will have true committal to Jesus Christ.

 May God bless his Holy Word to us, and may his Holy Name be praised and glorified.




Wednesday 17 August 2022


                  GALATIANS 5, v13/25

In all Paul’s Letters. he adopts the pattern of setting out doctrine in the first part before going on to illustrate practical applicati 

He has set out in Galatians, the danger of listening to false teachers. who tried to impose the need for new Christians to accept the restrictions of Jewish Law and practice.  Now, in this last half of the Letter, he is warning that freedom, if not properly applied, can turn into licence.  Christian freedom is given to us in Christ, demands self control.  This passage is full of the mention of the Holy Spirit,

 When I first entered Christian ministry, I was inspired and influenced by a well-known Baptist pastor, who taught faithfully and fearlessly, and in simple terms through a Bible passage. But it can be difficult at these times, when there is so much liberal Christianity, and I have found there is nothing so illiberal as a liberal; they do not allow a contrary view or opinion, and tend to infer some kind of phobia or allegation of intolerance, on anyone trying just to interpret Scripture as God intended.

 In the Christian life, there are two forces competing against each other, those of the flesh and that of the Spirit. Paul points out that there are two Ways of living, and we all have two sides to our nature, and life is a struggle between the two. Some people are charming with a friendly manner which gains admiration, but there is too often another side, which those close are aware of; and these two forces are constantly striving to win control over us.  If we are guided by the Holy Spirit we will follow the righteous way. 

 The Holy Spirit renews us to give us a new nature in total opposition to the flesh, which tries to push the urge of a sinful nature.  We come into the world by natural birth, and when we find Jesus Christ and commit ourselves to Him, we are born anew in a spiritual birth. 

 This passage is full of the Holy Spirit, seven times by name, and presented as the One who can tell you what to do, so that you won’t be doing the wrong things, and following our natural desires which are just the opposite. We can read the Bible and other religious writings, and know all the theory, but find it hard to put into practice. 

 In this passage, Paul is calling on us to obey the Holy Spirit’s guidance. so that we will not offend God by following less than proper actions.  When we follow our own inclinations, we often engage in such actions as eagerness for our own pleasure, impurity of some kind by word or deed, jealousy, envy, hatred or pride.

 This is where baptism needs to be understood sensibly, and theologically.  In the baptism service, in some denominations it is declared ‘that this child has been born anew (or again)’.  It is both nonsensical and irresponsible to say a new born child, or a child of most ages, knows what being born again means in the spiritual sense.  Before a person can claim to be born again, there has to be repentance from sin, and a confession of faith.

 Christians will often face an internal struggle intensely, as their own nature dearly wishes to follow a course of life, which their spiritual conscience tells them is wrong, and the Holy Spirit will not let them feel comfortable with it.  He will convict us, by reminding us why Jesus died on the Cros

 The story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is well known.  The doctor, who was a respected a London surgeon, had discovered a drug which caused him to change his nature and so do shameful things.  When he came out from under its influence, he was ashamed of himself, but the drug was too strong to resist. and in mental torment he killed himself.

 By nature and inheritance, we all have a conflict within us, which at times causes us to do things we know within we should not be doing, and it is only with the power of the Holy Spirit we can fight and resist, for we cannot fight on our own.  Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, to help and give us the ability and the Bible states, ‘if anyone does not have the Spirit of Jesus Christ, he does not belong to Christ’.  The Holy Spirit provides all the resources, and Paul is saying, be like Christ.

 When we are led by the Holy Spirit, our lives will reveal love, joy, pace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness and self-control.  These are the fruits of the Spirit, and fruit depends on the health of the tree.  Spiritual fruit means character, and producing a quality of life.  If we follow Christ we shall produce abundant fruit.

 A Christian should always be aware, that he or she, is a public figure in that when people know you are a Christian, they will watch you and any fall from grace will be noticed and commented upon.  As Paul viewed things, Jesus Christ is the most important part of one’s life and the Christian should devote oneself to act in such a way as to be worthy of Him.   This is largely the theme of this Letter.

 The non-Christian may face a moral conflict and never feel guilty, for they are doing what seems normal behaviour, but the Christian will feel an internal conflict quite strongly, for the Holy Spirit will not allow a Christian to feel at ease with improper behaviour. 

 The Church is often reluctant to speak frankly on parts of the Bible, as many within, both lay and clergy do not subscribe fully to what is written, and often fall down on more than one sin.

 It is still a fact that most of us who attend Church, strive to live in the way we are called to do so, and to a great degree succeed.  When we do fall, we know Christ is waiting to pick us up, having given His life on the Cross to put us right with God.

 The works of the flesh are spelled out in verses 19/21, starting with sexual immorality.  When Paul wrote this, he was referring to behaviour which preachers of today find the most sensitive of subjects.  If they preached it as it was meant when written, they would lose many of their congregations, for all sexual relationships outside of marriage were being condemned. 

 The greater part of the population is living in ‘partnership,’ and, or, indulging in sexual conduct.  The psychotic devotees of political correctness now object to the terms husband/wife.  When I am asked about my partner, I reply firmly that I do not have a partner, but I do have a wife and am quite proud to be her husband. 

 The press and television have fanned up the flames, giving the impression that free sex is not to be ashamed of, and is quite acceptable and an essential part of life.  Almost every relationship portrayed on television programmes involves an immediate sexual encounter.  This had led young, and very young people to feel odd if not taking part, and led the United Kingdom to have the largest teenage pregnancy rate (and abortions) in Europe, in spite of the legal fact that under age sex is contrary to law.  Judges have made rulings which encourage free sexual expression. 

 The list goes on to mention impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, hatred, malice, jealousy anger, rage drunkenness, wrong doctrine. 

 Paul adds that anyone who belongs to Christ will have nailed such evil desires to his cross and crucified them there, but we must accept there are plenty of people within the Church who have not done so.   There are far too many calling for sexual behaviour, which is totally contrary to Scripture, to be seen as acceptable. Last year we had the incredible statement of senior clergy, inviting couples to come and get married in Church and bring their children to be baptised at the same time, a sort of two for one offer. Even society found that mad.

 We frequently find people who will not be friendly with other members, who get jealous when someone else gets asked to do something, and upset if they cannot have their own way.  This is a complete affront to Christian teaching and should be condemned when revealed.

 Paul then turns to speak of the fruits of the Spirit which come when the Holy Spirit controls our lives. When we are Christian we must produce love, which is the opposite of selfishness and having a caring nature;-- joy, being and making people feel cheerful;-- peace, not looking to make trouble; --patience, being long suffering and having endurance;-- kindness, always willing to be helpful and giving of oneself; --gentleness, a sensitive feeling to people;-- faithfulness, having dependability and reliability;-- and self- control, not being ready to respond aggressively.

 For all those people who mock and ridicule Christians and the Bible, a time of reality will one day come when they will wish they had taken our way of life.

 The Bible states ‘heaven can be entered only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad and its gate is wide enough for all the multitude who choose its easy way. But the Gateway to Life is small, and the road is narrow and only a few ever find it.

 Make sure you choose the right road.

Saturday 13 August 2022


Luke12 v 49-56

            I havecome  come to  set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning.

         The sayings of Jesus in this passage, explain things in the Church, as well as those outside the Church.  Jesus came to bring salvation, but his coming also brought division. Some people were ready to follow him, but many did not follow  him. The same situation exists now, as I expect it has through the ages.  This means  we have fewer people attending our Churches, a small percentage of the population

   Jesus lived a humble life for thirty three years, before dying an agony filled death. We should strive to recognize he saved many from going to hell. His zeal is an example for all his people. This verse shows how hopeless it is to find peace and harmony, when the gospel is not preached as it is meant to be.  Jesus came to save people, and call them to God, and he came in peace, but knew he would cause division.  This I expect has been happening through the ages, and is something happening in our Churches in its present age, and we see the effects it has made clearly.

In Jewish thought, fire meant judgement, and expected God to judge in nations a less favourable way  than to them, his special people  As a Jew he could not imagine himself, being Judge by God. Jesus was portraying an image, and he came not with a fanfare, Jesus was thought to be struggling.  The Cross lay before him, and he would give his life as a ransom for many.

           The Jews get rain from the Mediterranean sea, and when the clouds were forming, it was then known bad weather was coming.  Jesus told them they were hypocrites as they could read the signs of the weather, but couldn’t see he was telling them the Kingdom of God was coming.

         I have a horrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until is it’s accomplished.

             Jesus spoke of the baptism he had to face, one of suffering and agony, wounds  with Cross to be carried. He said he would have to go on until it was finished, he never contemplated giving up. He was ready to do the things to attain redemption for his people. He would open the door to reveal God’s glory to a lost world.  His sacrifices would provide a fountain for sin and uncleanness.  Let us all be aware that all his sufferings were on our behalf, and he endured such pain willingly. He could have escaped them, so let us his followers,  react accordingly, and avoid giving up to care for ourselves.

             He described his baptism of fire to face, which was a heavy burden to carry and he would go on suffering until it happened.  He was foreseeing his way to the Cross. God’s wrath would be placed on hm in the place of mankind, and he would be put to death, but he would earnestly follow the plan,  God had made for him.  The crowd had no spiritual feeling for him, and such was their hypocrisy, they didn’t really appreciate the fire and baptism enforces.

          Fire was seen as a sign of judgement, but also a sign of purification. The Old Testament prophet Malachi, in prophesying the coming of Jesus, stated, he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal.  Fire was used to refine silver and metal, and remove all uncleanness so that the metal was bright and pure.

           Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No I have come to divide people against each other. From now on, families will be split apart, three, in favor of me, and two against, or two in favor and three against.  Father will be divided against son, and son against father. Mother against daughter, and daughter against mother, and mother-in-law against daughter=in -law. and daughter-in law against mother-in-law.

          How true this has been proved, quite widely.  Young people going to Church or bible studies, and fathers especially, objecting furiously, fearing the boy will become interested in religion. Mothers not liking daughters going to Church in case they lose some control of them.  I have witnessed this happening in real life. But the most serious disputes have been when men have objected to their wives attending Church.  This can be very sad.  I had a lady who joined my Church, who had a captive personality. She had not been to Church on a regular basis, but once she came among us, was really touched by the Bible stories. She was popular on the school run, so brought quite a few young mothers with their children. Her enthusiasm led to her forming a Bible study class in her home, one night each week.  Her husband worked on an oil rig and was away from home for periods of weeks. One night he telephoned her when her class was met, and heard voices and demanded to know who she was with. When she explained it was a church meeting, he told her to pack the church in right away, he gave her a choice,either to leave he church or leave him, and he would take custody of the two children. She was very sad, and asked me to understand she feared for her children and would have to leave.  There was no justification for him to do that, his wife had a mixed group of older men and women, and there was no suggestion or probability of her doing any wrong.

.            Such I regret to say is a common attitude with a lot of men, and shows bigotry, stupidity, and sheer wickedness. I rest assured he will find it was a bad move, and that heavenly forces are more powerful than him.

             We do witness unpleasantness when a Protestant meets a Roman Catholic of the opposite sex and want to marry. I served in Merseyside where the two faiths are strongly at odds. But with care and faith things can be sorted out.  I had a Church of England young man come to see me about marrying a Catholic from another city, and wondered if I would allow her priest to give the final blessing. The priest came, and we met in perfect harmony. We agreed to do all the wedding service together, sharing the making of vows and giving the blessing together. Both families, whilst surprised at our move, were delighted and it made the families rejoice together. It is utterly ridiculous for Christians to reject each other, especially at priestly level, and things can go even more happily and blessed when we show willingness.            A time will come when there will be no division, and we shall all be of one mind. This will be when Jesus returns and crushes all division.


Sunday 7 August 2022

Matthew 16 v 18 

Jesus said, I will build my Church and the powers of hell will not conquer it

I was listening to a service from a Baptist Church in the United States, where a very fine Biblical preaching Pastor was quoting a story about a survey being carried out, which asked people to answer one of two questions. Is the world doing all right? Or is it going to hell in a hang basket. The result was 60% for the second question.

I would like to paraphrase that survey, and offer three questions for you to choose.  Is the Church doing all right?  Is it going to hell in a hang basket?  Has part of the Church already got  to hell ?

Before I start to respond to the question, I understand some people may be upset and take offence by what is written, which would be regrettable, for I cannot imagine any sincere preacher wanting to cause offence, but I recognize a lot of people do not want to hear what the Bible states, (that is God speaking). If anyone is offended, I must ask you why?  My duty as a Minister of the Gospel is to tell you what the Bible states, and can be verified by reference to any Bible.

What an individual person believes is a personal matter, and will be judged by the supreme judge when we face Him one day.  But I strongly believe all Christian Ministers must teach, preach and advise, according to Holy Scripture.  This is what Jesus commanded and God expects. Sadly, as I will detail, there are misleading teachings being given at all levels within the Church.

Jesus stated, I will build my church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.  There are many parts of the world where the Church is strong and growing fast, as in Africa, China, Asia and other places in the Eastern hemisphere. In Western countries, there is too willing a desire to line up with society, and the consequences are showing in places,

It is helpful to turn back and look at the first Christian Church.  The Apostle Peter made a stirring sermon to a crowd of 3,000 people, and such was the effect, they all were ready to follow Jesus. Without coercion, they listened to the teaching of the Apostles, all of which is recorded for us in the New Testament, and they devoted themselves to that teaching, and the Church was blessed by God and grew daily, and spread through the ancient world.  This was solid, unsoiled Christianity, before men started to add their own preferences, and distort the gospel.

The Church is more than a building, it is a place where the redeemed people of God, who have confessed and repented of sins, and have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, meet to worship, praise and glorify God.  It is where we try to lead others to find Jesus. He is the cornerstone of the Church.   I have often felt there are those who want to challenge the words of Jesus, and destroy it; they are certainly giving a good impressions of doing so.

An advertisement was once placed in the Guardian newspaper, where else, for someone to lead and be passionate about spiritual growth, but the applicant does not need to be a practicing Christian.  It is like inviting a member of the Conservative Party to lead an election campaign for the Labour Party. You must really wonder what sort of mind would place such an advert.

We have to understand we face an aggressive and determined secular faction, who are far more dedicated to their cause than Christians are to the Church. They are extremely well organised and funded. One method they use is to destroy the traditional family; another is to infiltrate the educational system, and have the press on side.  Of course all Bible teaching is to be ignored.

I have said many times, what individual persons do, or two people of the same sex do, is a matter entirely for them.  I accept there are those who are very nice people, friendly and helpful to others, but there are great many who are intolerant of any opinion other  than theirs, and can be vengeful to opponents. We should be able to exist together, and God will sort things out in His way.

The function of the Church is to teach and spread the Christian gospel. For that to be successful, we teach only that which is recorded in the Holy Scriptures, the Bible, and  promise to banish all false doctrine; men and women ordained as Ministers mustl faithfully fulfil vows made at ordination..  If a Church is to fulfil its function it has to be based on the Bible.

I have been most impressed by Churches in the United States. I have watched services at five Churches, and at each one, where the congregations are large, when the Pastors call them to turn to the Bible passage, every person has their own Bible to refer to, and some make notes of what has been said. I know they are personal bibles, as they are all different in size and kind.  This is why the congregations are large.  I am sure there are Churches on a smaller size, who do so here in the United Kingdom, I just haven’t found any.

It is disheartening to read what is happening in the Church, and a lot is occurred by senior members of the clergy.  A leading bishop was asked if the Church would define ‘a woman’ and the quoted reply was that the Church does not have a definition of women. The Bible does, but perhaps he never reads it. On the second page on opening the Bible it is stated, so the Lord God caused the man to fall asleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took one of the man’s ribs and made a WOMAN. She will be called woman.  What an insult to half of God’s creation, who do so much for the Church, to deny a definition. Could it be to avoid the criticisms of those who challenge God’s order of creation?

But that is minor. We have had cries from high voices, to abandon biblical marriage as it offends  same sex people. Vicar told no place for him in the Church if teaches biblical terms of sexuality; Bible not a necessary book to assist the community. There are so many other instances.

The Archbishop of Canterbury held a meeting of 650 bishops  of the Anglican Church across the world, and several from Africa declined the invitation, as they knew bishops from Canada America and others, were not following Scripture regarding sexual matters. It is reported the Archbishop stated he would not alter the published and established decision of the Church of England, that marriage was between a man and woman, but amazingly added he would not punish Vicars who performed such ceremonies.  Such was the deep belief of African bishops they declined to share services with those who were allowing the Word of God to be ignored.

I have been amazed at how blindly ignorant many good people are regarding marriage, so let us turn to God’s Word.   A  man shall leave his father and cling to his wife and the two shall be united as one.  All other sexual relationships are condemned.

Same sex relationships have grown, as in a free country they are entitled, and transgenderism has come in to play, and the Church has not spoken out for God, but showed sympathy and some tolerance.  An Archbishop stated he could not sleep at the thought of people  being helped to convert back, yet there was no mention of him complaining when they converted from normality.

The most eminent medical surgeons have stated,  that no matter how a  person’s body is altered, a male or female chromosome cannot be changed, yet young women are having mastectomies performed in an effort to become male, and young men having bodies mutilated, and yet Church fails to tell such is wrong, but instead offers support,

The Bible states, there is one faith, one baptism, yet the Church has created a service for those who have changed sex, and want to be re-baptised in the new sex. Such is in effect being stated by such Church actions,  that God has got His whole creation order wrong.   Could anyone imagine an Army where Generals were colluding with the enemy?  How would investors in Tesco react, if the directors stated their products were inferior to Waitrose.

But it would be proper for those who support such practices, to be as tolerant to those who believe different, as we are to them, rather than be intolerant. This is moving from God’s design, and is rebellion at what is embedded in our biology. How a heavily built men, some with a beard can be classified as a woman is beyond comprehension. Such instances are causing difficulties, and concern, to biological women, and leading politicians have not the courage to speak out.  A woman nominated for the American Supreme Court stated openly, she could not define a woman as she was not a biologist.

The Methodist Church, once a great evangelical Church,  led and founded by two great names of Christian history, John and Charles Wesley, has betrayed their heritage and held services in support of gay pride in the most revered Chapel in Methodism, the John Wesley Chapel at Bristol.  This was in direct contradiction to the teaching of John Wesley in his preaching of Romans 1, when he emphasised the teaching of marriage as one man and one woman.  However, all the main denominations except the Roman Catholic Church, have adopted same sex marriages and cast aside the Bible.

The time has come for Christians to be as devoted and faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, as those first Christians were.  We must teach all biblical doctrine, and proclaim how God wants us to live, to teach what is true, and show 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 to God, for there is no salvation in any other name by which we may be saved.  Jesus is the only way to the Father. The Bible is a complete manual of how God wants us to live.

It is the duty of  the Church to teach the gospel and not be budged from it, not to be blown by every spiritual wind, so that we drift from our moorings. Don’t be superficial believers, hold fast to the gospel, which was given to the Apostles by our Lord Jesus.

Going back to the question of our survey, do you think the Church is fit for its purpose?  Is it making disciples and leading people to worship?

Is it teaching that Jesus is the only Saviour of mankind? Does it abide by the teaching of how Christians should live, as set out in the Bible?  Does it accept the Bible is the full and complete authority.  Liberalism is tearing the Church apart, by trying to supplant biblical authority for cultural expressions and denying the infallibility of the Bible, with trendy issues replacing the Cross of Christ.

Like a lighthouse shines its light over trouble waters to steer ships to a set course and safety, so should the Church be a light not hid under a bushel, but from a hill top to steer people away from sinful waters to the course set by God, and made possible by the giving by the Lord Jesus of His life on the Cross  to make us righteous in God’s sight.

To paraphrase a famous saying, do not ask what God can do for you. Ask what you can do for God