Monday 15 January 2024

2 Peter 1 v 16 T

I want to turn with you to words of Peter,. For we have not followed cleverly invented myths when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.      

      As we reflect on the life of the Church we think of the numbers of people who have passed through doors over the years.  There was a time when the church stood as a beacon of light in a dark world; a place where hope, inspiration and encouragement were given.  Sadly to-day’s world thinks it can provide such things for themselves without any help from the Almighty.

     These are dark days for the Church in this country.  We live in a society which largely rejects God, and regards Church and Christianity as totally irrelevant to their lives. 

     Many of us here grew up when it was the natural thing as a child to be sent to Sunday school, sing in the church choir, and accompany parents to Church.  People may not have known the Bible thoroughly, but they knew the main stories and understood what the major festivals meant. 

     The Church was held in general respect, and the Vicar was a prominent member of the community. Politicians were supportive of the Church and were Christian in belief. 

     Now that has all changed. Generations have grown up without having had any religious education and know nothing about the Church or the faith.      

     Politicians have enacted legislation which is offensive to Christian belief and teaching, and which is supported by all parties.  The judiciary seems intent on suppressing every expression of Christian faith by word or symbol.

     What people fail to realise is that if Christianity is erased from public life it will create a vacuum which will be filled by something else less pleasant.  

     Our faith is mocked as being fairy tale stuff, fantasy, pie in the sky, and these are just the polite epithets. 

     But we do not follow myths of any kind.  One day people will regret such attitudes. Jesus came into the world to save and we as His disciples must try to do His work for Him now.

      I have taken services in many villages over the last few years, and see the same small congregations, which is so sad.  Residents have so much to be thankful for; beautiful homes in idyllic surroundings, without any of the social ills of the towns and cities.  We seem to have lost Middle England.

     Yet when I journey home this morning, I will pass a Church where they have to put on two services each Sunday because there is not enough room to accommodate at one. So things can happen if we are doing what is right by God.

     We must all examine our witness and consider how we can get our message across.

     The greatest revival of Christianity in this country came during the ministry of John/Charles Wesley    If they were alive today they would have much to say at the way the Church has failed to proclaim the message they left, that salvation was through Christ alone, the value of a person’s life was measured by their faith, and the doctrine of heaven and hell.  They would be horrified to view the preaching of ther great Church and the doctrines now adopted.

     For many preachers these are forbidden subjects fearing they may upset people, yet they are essential biblical doctrine and were not forbidden by our Lord.  Today people are being drawn away from the doctrines of the Bible as judgement is becoming a censored word.

     Jesus made it patently clear that there will come a day of judgement, and in parable after parable warned that we face one of two destinies, one He called heaven and the other hell. He spoke of two roads, two gates. People say God would never send anyone to hell, and that is right; but people may choose for themselves by their lives.

     The Bible states, ‘salvation is found in no other name under heaven except Jesus Christ’.  It is hard to quote the Bible without someone saying ‘Oh you shouldn’t say that.    

     The Bible states’ Jesus said no one can come to the Father except through me’, yet many preachers are dodging quoting this.  If we avoid telling these verses how are people ever to come to know the gospel.

     This tells us our faith is not like other faiths which someone has made up, but rather comes from God. 

     This is a startling declaration! It says that there is no other who can fulfill the place of being the cornerstone of authority in the world. No other name! None of the religious leaders, none of the political leaders of all time could possibly do this work. You take all the religious names of history -- Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, whoever and whatever. The most that can be said of these men and women is that they are moral teachers. The best we can say of them is that they taught what is right. Many of them did.

     Christians are often accused of being bigoted, of being intolerant of other faiths. There is a sense in which that accusation is perfectly just. We are intolerant of other faiths, in the final analysis. But this does not mean that Christians do not recognize that there is much truth in other religions. Other great religious leaders have uttered fine moral teachings and precepts which have helped people. But there is one thing they could not do: They could tell us what was right; but they could not enable us to do it. That is the difference between Jesus of Nazareth and any other name that can be named in this world. That is why we can never consent to considering any other name to be equal with that of Jesus of Nazareth. No other has solved the problem of death. There is no other name by which we can be saved.

      The life of Jesus Christ is never against government; but it is against oppressive government such as we have recently seen. It is the foundation of Christian liberties, everywhere. There has never been a force more powerful and more vital to assure the liberation of men and women from oppression and immorality than this dramatic power of the resurrection. This is why it is hated by the political forces of the day, wherever they may be.

      Everywhere God is inviting men and women to become a part of it, by sharing in the risen life of Jesus Christ, and experiencing now the glory of a life of peace and joy and rest and strength and adequacy and power and meaning and fullness -- now. This is what the resurrection means.

     What however must be a major concern is false teaching within the Church.  Unfortunately as society has turned its back on Biblical teaching, so an increasing number within the Church consider we should re-interpret the Bible to meet their modern ideas of morality.  This suggests that God has got it wrong and He should be prepared to adjust to the age There is a reluctance by clergy to speak out for fear of being labelled as a bigot or being discriminatory.

     It is fair to say Christian preachers tend to modify teaching of traditional values to appeal to contemporary thinking, and for fear of offending one of the many discrimination laws promoted equally vigorously by vociferous minorities, so falling foul of the law, which is not enforced against other faiths with the same enthusiasm as against Christian preachers    

     There is the danger of substituting political correctness for biblical correctness.    

     Under the guise of equality and human rights, such legislation has only made for the inequitable, in that Christians have been deprived of their human rights, and a situation created which is ripe for entrapment of Christians.   

     We have gone along with the incredulous acceptance that marriage, (that is m/w) is no longer the bedrock of society, but is no more acceptable than any other relationship. 

     We are told minority groups have to be protected, but this does not apply to the minority group that is called Christian

      If ever the Word of God was needed it is never more so than now.  It calls for people to turn back to God who is ready and able to meet the needs of everyone who turns to Him.  The message we have for the world is centred upon the person of Jesus Christ and provides for a stable and well balanced society.

     The world’s greatest need is to hear about Jesus Christ. All Christians, not simply all ministers, are commanded in Scripture to share their faith    

     We put a lot of energy into fairs, fetes and garden parties, but treat them as just that without trying to reach out to the people who attend

     We have parish magazines and newsletters, which mostly tell what HAS happened, and contains articles about gardening or other hobbies, pieces about where people have been, or of memories.  There needs to be also a stimulating, provocative writing on a biblical theme. For 17 years I edited a parish magazine, which always included bible teaching, and I know it was read and appreciated, even when views differed.  

     The country is in spiritual death throes and in need of intensive care.  This is why we must contend for the faith.  How God must weep when He sees the Church singing His praise, pretending to be holy, whilst countenancing and failing to speak out on moral issues which totally ignore His written Word.

     My friends, we are not to be blown by every new spiritual wind so that we drift from our moorings.  We are not to be superficial believers. Hold fast to the gospel once given by the Apostles who were taught by the Master Himself. 

     It is so easy in the times we live in to opt out, saying, ‘there is no point in fighting them.’  Can you imagine what would have happened if Winston Churchill had have said in 1940, ‘there is no use in us fighting, the enemy is too powerful.’  We must stand firm by the Cross.

     Let us remember there are Christians being persecuted in non Christian lands with violence, arson, and yes even murder.  Hundreds have been killed in the last few months in Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia and Nigeria.  Whole villages ransacked, yet they valiantly fight on for their Lord and Saviour.  We must show the same spirit.

     Today, no less than in any other age, it is intense biblical integrity that is needed. Fearless courage and conviction, to stand for the truth --that Jesus Christ is the only name that saves.    


Be in Church on Sunday and God bless you

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