Saturday 28 October 2023

 John R O M A N S , Chapter 1 Verses 16/17


Sunday should be a special day for the Christian Church. Today is Reformation Sunday, when we remember a German Augustinian Monk, on 31st October 1517 exposed the corruption in the Church, which was entirely in the Roman Catholic tradition, and reformed it to be a Church which became as a result of his commitment a Protestant Reformation 

 For I am not ashamed of  the gospel for it is the po salvation of God for salvation for everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

 In these verses we have the opportunity of advancing our Christian belief. We are granted teaching about God, Jesus, faith, salvation, righteousness. 

Paul explains why he is so anxious to preach the gospel, for it is the power of God. He wanted to be right by God and share the gospel with others, and could not see anything to be ashamed of.

The Bible should be the supreme authority for the Church, it contains the very words of the living God, enables us to get close to God, and all preaching should be from the Bible.

In the Roman empire, power was important and they were proud of their might, and were active in using their power. Paul had in mind the lack of power and the limited size of the Church .  He feared this may restrain the Christians in declaring their faith. Paul wanted it to be known that he was not  embarrassed because of the gospel, and never ashamed for it was the power of God that brings people to receive salvation.

God sent Jesus to lead the Jews to obtain salvation, but had later invited non Jews. The fact that God first made Jews, indicates the priority of the Jews in salvation history, and their election as God’s people. The term Greek refers to all non-Jews, and not just people from Greece.

The keenness of Paul to indicate he was not ashamed, was to emphasise that he was prepared to go to Rome and face the academic abilities of Roman debaters, something no one else had done.

This should be both inspiring and encouraging to Christians to-day. There are so many (alleged) Christians, who are most reluctant to declare their faith, even to friends. Such is prevalent when people hide Church membership, more so with men. I, as with other pastors, felt it was my duty and responsibility, to visit members who became sick, more so when in hospital. The male members did not wish me to attend in the hospital dressed as a clergyman. What a difference with Muslim members where the men are anxious to let it be known they were members of Islam.

I find it almost dishonest for a person to claim to be a Christian, that is being a follower of Christ, yet be so ashamed, to publicly hide from doing so. Our faith is a factual faith, recorded in history and not made up.  

It is well to think how we interpret faith. Everybody has faith, which we display when we see a doctor and accept the treatment he gave and take it readily. Many similar cases could be thought of.

. But what about Christian faith. Jesus Christ was cruelly crucified on the Cross,to pay the price for us to be forgiven, so  we should be ever ready and proud to claim ourselves as Christians. This is a major doctrine of Christian faith, we accept that to be truth without any qualifications, for this is a vital part of Christianity.

Faith is declared to be having things hoped for but not seen. We believe in God who we can’t see, and accept Jesus as our Saviour and all He did for us

Without ever having met Jesus. Faith is built upon the Bible, which will become for you a new way of life.

It is by faith we come to God and Jesus, and it is the only way. God loves all people and wants them to be saved. God knows when a person has reached a point in their life when He can choose to call them to accept Jesus into their life. You then pray to Jesus,and tell Him that you want Him to be in your life, and are willing to obey His teaching and commands. God in His grace will through faith in Jesus, accept you as being righteous and declare you to be justified; that means you are accepted by God just as if you had been a full Christian. You have salvation from God through the blood of Christ who gave you forgiveness, and made you clean for heaven.

You may wish to come to know God on a more person level, for God has spoken to us in the Bible, we are called to pray to God, and it is only by Jesus that we can approach God. God has revealed Himself to us by nature,, and in the order of creation of land, sky, and waters.

Most people say they believe in God, and think that is a profound statement, (but so does the devil), and that is no answer. You have to have a personal knowledge and commitment to your God, for you will never know the power of God by watching a television screen.

Jesus said forcefully, no one comes to God except through Him. The Bible,by which God speaks to us, states Jesus is the cornerstone of the Church, and there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven among men by which we must be saved.

It is a sad fact that many people have no interest in God,,,and consider God and the Church irrelevant.  Yet when trouble comes and personal ills, God becomes an interest. Even atheists turn to God. I was amused one day whist waiting at a cemetery there was a humanist service, with the person conducting told people there were certain things they could do, and ended by saying if nothing works then turn to God.

I am sure that if I should conduct a poll and ask people if they claimed to be a Christian, I would be told  in almost every case they were, but they would find it hard to answer why they so claimed.  They would feel mortally wounded, if it was suggested they were not.

In order to call yourself a Christian it means more than just going to Church, perhaps not even doing that, nor does it include  watching Songs of Praise on television, or any other semi-social activity.

If a man or woman, attended a professional football social club and claimed to be a supporter, but didn’t attend matches or know the names of players, but stated they do watch the team when on television, they would be driven out of the door before they realized what was happening.

A true Christian would know and believe in the Virgin birth, the parables of Jesus, |His miracle deeds, His crucifixion, His death and resurrection and ascension.

When we talk of believing, this should mean accepting the subject under discussion,  committing yourself into fully believing it as fact. When you state you believe in Christ and God, you are declaring you have full faith that it is not an intellectual title or a casual statement, it means much more.  You have to believe fully in your heart this is so, and have no doubt that God raised Him physically from the dead; that is the heart of the Christian message.

So, when you do believe and are prepared to confess with your mouth, God accepts you as righteous.

I recognize the Church is not very helpful in the present time, and tends to proclaim a social gospel rather than spiritual one. The Bible is seen as a necessity for reading the lessons, but it needs to be fully taught verse by verse, and whilst this may be done in some evangelical Churches, it is not widespread in the main denominations, who are more prone to be liberal as a means of attracting people.

The situation is exacerbated by the anti-Christian governments,who have destroyed the moral code which we has been passed down as part of our Christian heritage.

I find it disgusting hypocrisy to see politicians eager to get invitations to the big occasions in Cathedrals, and even like to play a part in the service by reading a lesson, yet produce legislation which is distinctly against the Christian faith, and possibly ethnic faiths.  There is anxiety to degrade marriage, the very means of a nation’s stability, provide abortion pills which make women ill or kill, have sexual education in every school irrespective of parents wishes, and plays drown religion.

The Bible tells you are saved by faith. Great Christian men gave their lives to bring the message we have been looking at. Let Reformation Day remind you, that a lone German monk suffered much hardship to rid the Church of all improper practices, and return it to a Church fully committed to God’s Word. He was joined by men in other countries , John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli and Philip Melanchthon.

There is a tendency in some Western Churches to stray from the Bible in order to please the agenda of zealots of modern culture. Think of those famous words of Martin Luther, who when threatened of losing his life unless he recanted and accepted, the authority of the Pope and the leader of the Holy Roman Empire Charles V 

 I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures and by clear reason (for I do not trust in the pope or councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen

 I close with the words of Scripture.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved.


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