It’s one things to fight a common enemy without – wars are fought and won on such a basis. One army sets themselves in array against another and a bloody battle is fought until one side gains the victory. However, it’s quite another thing altogether when the enemies of a man are those within his own household; those within his own ranks! How then shall the battle be won? Indeed our Lord well summed up the tragedy and the certainty of defeat when he said: “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mk. 3:25).
This sermon is a challenging exhortation for the body of Christ to grow up into Christian maturity; to put away the infighting and pride and instead to seek to forbear with one another in love and in so doing to preserve the unity of the Holy Spirit in the bond of peace!!
There are some things in the Christian religion too great to move; truths that are non-negotiable, not open for debate, off limits and out of bounds! These great doctrines of our faith pertaining to the person, nature and work of Jesus Christ and the means by which salvation comes to man are not open for discussion! To dispense of these pillars is to destroy the very foundation upon which Christianity stands. That said, there are matters of less importance, matters of Christian conscience which do allow for a difference in application and flexibility within the growing members of the Body of Christ.
In this sermon, we seek delicately and biblically to set out in love matters pertaining to Christian conscience. Which issues are matters of conscience and which are morally binding? How are we to conduct ourselves toward one another on matters of conscience? All these questions and more, we seek to answer in this teaching sermon.
The Word of God is clear…”If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1 Jn. 4:20). Brethren, be not deceived, our love for Him who we cannot see is manifest to the degree that we love one another!! When we think of the great love that He has demonstrated towards us in sending His Son to die on the cross – Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!!!
Dear Brethren, owe no man anything, but to love one another! The Lord’s coming is at hand and the night is far spent – It’s high time to awake out of sleep and to walk as children of the light!!!
The Sacrament of the Eucharist
This now being our fourth teaching part on the sacraments, we come at last to set in focus, the sacrament of the Eucharist. The questions that we want to ask in this teaching part are two in number. Firstly, we want to ask; for what reason is the sacrament of the Eucharist so important and secondly; is the sacrament of the Eucharist biblical?
Biblical support to substantiate the sacrament of the Eucharist fails at every point. Scripture stands in direct contradiction to the Roman Catholic Mass. Biblically, Christ is not and cannot be present in a consecrated piece of wafer; eternal life cannot be received by ingesting the body and blood, of Jesus Christ; a man cannot have power on earth to change the substance of that bread and wine into the body, blood, soul and divinity Jesus Christ; and finally, Eucharist adoration aka idolatry is flatly condemned in the pages of Scripture!! At best, the crowning sacrament of the Roman Catholic is a fraud and at worst utterly damnable to millions who celebrate and partake of it!!
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Great misunderstanding exists among some believers regarding our relationship to governing authorities. Some boast that they have only one King to whom they owe their allegiance and thus they break the law of the land! Paul takes very strong objection against such a view and instructs believers that they are to recognise that governing authorities have received their seat of power from God. God’s ministers they are, to execute wrath and justice in His place! As Christians we are not to be rebels in our cause but rather we are to subject ourselves to those God has placed over us.
In this sermon, a clear exhortation is delivered for Christians to be law abiding citizens. Recognising on one hand our citizenship in heaven, but on the other, our citizenship on earth; it is not Caesar or Christ, but both, so long as the law of Caesar does not contravene the law of God!!
Like a man with only 30 seconds to live in which to speak his departing words; Paul with his finger on the trigger, fires out no less than 32 heart searching commands. Each command is like the bullet of a trained marksman, finding its way to its given target! Every word counting to encourage, reprove, exhort and edify the Body of Jesus Christ. If there was a word to sum up the vast array of words found in the passage before us, it would be the word love! If there was a container in which the whole sum of words could be stored, it would have written across it the word love!!
This sermon is a mighty challenge and a call to earnest examination of the heart and conduct. The single greatest sign of maturity in the life of a Christian is not how much knowledge is contained in one’s head but rather, the degree to which one’s life is conformed to a life of love.
As one considers the general perception of what Church is supposed to be, one cannot help but sense that there is a great misunderstanding on the part of many regarding this matter. Content it seems the great crowds are, Sunday after Sunday, to pour rank and file into a building to occupy the pews and receive their full. Yet, Jesus’ great high priestly payer in John 17 was that His body the Church would be one; united in a love so evident that the world would believe that we are His disciples!
Wrong perception breeds wrong attitude, which in turn breeds wrong conduct. In this sermon the picture of a functioning body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies is set firmly before the listener. Are you operating in your calling/gifting and if so, to what degree of sacrifice and service? Oh that we might be not just be receivers and takers! Would to God that we would become givers, serving and blessing one another in our calling and gifting, growing up as one body in love!!
The Sacrament of Penance
We continue in this teaching part to examine and refute in finer detail another major one of the seven sacraments. Having looked at the sacrament of Baptism, we want in this teaching part to turn our attention to the sacrament of Penance.
In this teaching, we explore the Roman Catholic understanding of the concept of sin and atonement. In seeking to understand this, we in turn are equipped with the necessary knowledge to aid our understanding of just how important the sacrament of penance is in the salvation of Roman Catholics. How is it that a Roman Catholic priest has power on earth in Christ’s stead to forgive the sins of the penitent? What role if any, do human works play in our salvation? Is there such a place as purgatory and if so what role does its temporal flames play in our salvation? What are indulgences and how do they figure in our salvation? All of these questions are explored in this teaching part as we take a biblical look at the sacrament of Penance.
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Well the words of an old hymn serve to adorn the passage of Scripture before us – A Living Sacrifice. “I fail to find a sacrifice, or fitting gift to bring: Earth’s treasures have too little worth to offer to my King. My gift is small, it is my all, accept it Lord I pray; let self be slain, let Jesus reign, within my heart alway”. Oh, dear soul…is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid? What yet remains to give Him who gave all to us?
The world is ever seeking to fashion us into its pattern but we must hold fast and withstand that temptation. The exhortation given by the Apostle Paul in this twelfth chapter of Romans is for Christians to be transformed by the renewing of their mind in order that they might prove that good and acceptable and perfect will of God and in so proving to grow up in maturity.
When one surveys that peculiar and special people group known as the Jews; one would think them to be altogether cast off by God. How so few it seems have come to saving faith in Messiah; how many vehemently oppose the gospel of Jesus Christ!! With a deep groaning and an inescapable burden for his people, Paul lays down the case as to why it is absolutely not the case that God has cast off His covenanted people Israel!!
With careful exegesis and passionate preaching, the case is made in this sermon teaching in favour of Gods continuing plan for national Israel in the salvific purposes of God. Their rejection on account of divine judgment has proven to be the blessing of the nations; their partial hardening, the coming in of the Gentiles!! Yet there is coming a time when God shall turn His mercies back again to His covenant people as foretold by the prophets and in that day all of national Israel shall be saved!!