Within the Evangelical Church, I tend to find one of two extremes often at play; on one extreme there are those who abandon theology in pursuit of experience and at the other extreme, those who abandon experience in the pursuit of theology. Both extremes, I believe to be in error! To have an experience of God, without the solid theological ground upon which to rest it, is highly subjective and for that cause potentially very dangerous. We are exhorted, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1). Yet, on the other hand, to have a theological foundation that does not allow for God to be really experienced is to grieve the Holy Spirit and to deny Him His rightful place in our midst; “Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings” (1 Thess. 5:19-20).
This sermon is a challenge and an exhortation, calling God’s people to a true and authentic Biblical experience. The simple fact of the matter is, our God is a God of personal experience!! I understand full-well that such a phrase throws up so much baggage in light of the abuses at the extreme ends of the Charismatic/Pentecostal movements, but that doesn’t negate the truth of Scripture!! Emotionally driven, hyper-experienced based Christianity must be avoided at all costs; but equally, so must also, dry/dead religion. Without a doubt, theology matters!! But once the solid ground of theology has been laid, it must then prepare the way for a personal experience of Jesus Christ.
Jude vs. 3-4
It is one thing to contend earnestly for the faith theologically, contending for the purity of doctrine; and quite another to contend earnestly for the faith, contending for the purity of conduct! There are many who with glee shoot down false prophets and expose false teachers and yet, their own lives are compromised in the area of holiness. This my friends will never do! Knowledge of God’s Word alone simply is not enough to prevent a man/woman from being led astray in the desperate days in which we live. Correct doctrine alone, intellectually speaking, will never promise those holding to it the safety they think they have. If our hearts are still found in this world and unwilling to yield to God, then the sad reality is that we’re already deceived and the embracing of false doctrine will be the next logical step.
This sermon was preached at Victory Baptist Church, Blackpool.
Jude vs. 3-4
For two thousand years, a perpetual war has been raging against the Church of Jesus Christ. In the first century alone, in as little as two decades from Pentecost, within the very lifetimes of the apostles themselves, false teachers prowled the perimeter of Christ’s spiritual flock seeking a way to infiltrate their ranks.
Two thousand years on, not much has changed. Both from within and without, those preaching another gospel have risen up to turn many from the faith. This sermon is a warning and an exhortation, to contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints!
This sermon was preached at Victory Baptist Church, Blackpool.
Man has become an expert at meeting the many perceived needs that lie all around him, encouraging himself that anything is better than nothing; that some help is better than no help! Perhaps nowhere is this attitude more sadly seen than it is in today’s modern Evangelical Church. Spare bodies generally mean vacancies and vacancies, new appointments; youth pastor, choir director, Sunday school teacher, children’s minister…the rational? Where there is a need it must be met!! No worship leader? Appoint one! No deacon? Appoint one! No associate pastor? Appoint one! This may seem perfectly logical to some and perfectly reasonable for others, and for this reason the professing Church of Jesus Christ, for the most part, goes right on in good faith, building its man-made edifices in the hope that God will crown them with success! Yet God is not in the business of crowning our man-made structures and neither does He care for all our well thought out plans and good intentions. "Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Ps. 127:1).
Part 20 – What are the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?
Modern 21st century man well makes a fitting boast on account of the vast array of his many accomplishments, they’re admittedly very impressive! In this century and the last, the world has witnessed staggering and unprecedented breakthroughs in every field of expertise, from medicine to engineering. Western civilization has never known such affluence, such protracted periods of peace and prosperity; such high standards of health and living on a universal scale. You say, what has this got to do with the subject heading of this Bible teaching? Everything!! I fear that the modern man with all his natural brilliance and expertise has lost sight of his need for God. It is one thing when the world does this, but when Christians follow suit, it is a very sad day indeed. Behold the Mega-Church with all its outward display of pomp and glory. It bears greater resemblance to a mini village complex than a Church of the Living God, and serves as an indictment; a testament to the fact, that whatever fallen man can accomplish the Church is only one step behind! No!! The Church of Jesus Christ is first and foremost a spiritual body of believers who’ve had a supernatural encounter with the Almighty and through the new birth have been grafted into Christ’s spiritual body. Jesus Christ is the spiritual head and from Him flows down to each individual member, every spiritual blessing and spiritual gift needed for the sound nourishment and spiritual growth of the entire body. These spiritual gifts are not mere niceties that make for a cosy addition; instead, they are crucial components needed for the building up spiritually of Christ’s Church.
In this 20th teaching part we examine Biblically the gifts of the Holy Spirit and ask ourselves, are these gifts for today?
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1 Timothy 6:6-12
All around us, we are confronted with the overwhelming reality that we are living in a culture that is consumed by the love of money and the pursuit of pleasure. The common man has never known such abundance of wealth; goods which once upon a time only the rich could once afford, the average Joe now owns in no small measure. Via the cheap manufacturing and exporting of goods from the East, and the boom in the technology industry, every man, and his dog now own a smartphone of some description, not to mention besides, a flat screen television, a laptop/tablet computer and the like. As Christians, we must ever be on guard to ensure that we have not found for ourselves an abiding home in this world.
Tell me, dear friend, what does this world mean to you? Does its sparkle still attract? Does its charm still pull at the strings of your heart? Does its promise of happiness, security, prosperity, pleasure, and peace still entice you to come and enquire at its gates? This sermon is an exhortation to godliness, coupled with contentment, which is of tremendous gain. In light of the coming great tribulation and the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, we must see to it that our hearts are not be found in this world; in the words of Christ…“Remember Lot’s wife” (Lk. 17:32).
There’s a familiar saying; “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”. As with any proverb, there’s always a smattering of truth contained within it, and though this proverb is not found among those of Solomon’s, it nonetheless when run through the filter of God’s Word has significant meaning to what is being shared in this sermon. Whilst the world shuts its ears to facts and closes its eyes to reason in the hope that truth might go away; it doesn’t change reality!! If a man has a terminal disease, he can wish as much as he likes to not have it discussed in his hearing, but the fact that he chooses not to talk about it, doesn’t take the disease away! And you know...there’s some Christians that are just like this; practicing in the dark, things that they know deep down to be wrong and all the while unwilling to have those sins brought into the light!!!
This sermon is a call for all who name the name of Christ as Lord and Saviour to come from under the cover of shade and to allow the light of God’s searching rays to shine into their heart. Beware how you hear dear soul, for hearing not only has to do with perceiving, but also a heeding! How do you intend to respond?
Part 19 – How Do I Pray and What Is Fasting?
As one opens the Bible and turns to the pages of the New Testament, one is struck by the sheer number of references and exhortations calling God’s people to prayer. As Christians, we cannot dispense of this holiest discipline since it is the very lifeline not only of the Christian but of the Church. Yet sadly, the prayer meeting has almost disappeared from view and if there is one, it is the least attended meeting of the week. What is prayer? Prayer in its most basic form is talking to God and includes in its function petitions, supplications, intercessions, praise, thanksgiving and worship. In this nineteenth teaching part, we examine some of these functions and explore practically and theologically the question, ‘How do I pray?’
Finally, there are times in our lives that call for desperate action; times of great calamity or urgent needs where prayer alone does not seem to cut it. It is during these times that we may resort not only to heightened times of prayer but enjoin to our prayers the discipline of fasting. We shall seek also in this teaching then to bring some practical help and guidance to this matter and in so doing, clear up some of the misconceptions surrounding prayer and fasting.
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We are exhorted in Hebrews 10:22 to draw near to God. This command is not written to unbelievers but to believers! The ground upon which such an exhortation rests is the person of the risen Lord and His finished work upon the cross on which He shed His precious blood. What a High Priest is ours!! What a hope and what a confidence! Yet; as one looks closer at the verse in question; we are exhorted to draw near to God with a true (sincere) heart free from hypocrisy so as to be able to draw near in full assurance (entire confidence) of faith.
Sadly, there are many who through consciences defiled by sin; are not able to draw near to God with a true heart and in full assurance of faith. This sermon is a challenge to such to forsake that which they know to be wrong in their lives so as to be able to exercise a good conscience towards God, holding faith unswerving without which we cannot ever draw near to our God; For, “…without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
1 Chronicles 13
We are living in a generation, where the litmus test for determining what’s true is determined by how one feels. Feelings trump in a postmodern world where truth becomes relative to each individual’s experience and frame of reference. Such thinking is even seeping into the Church and is fast becoming the method by which we do everything from Church to family life. In the days of King David, David determined to bring up the Ark to Jerusalem and in consulting the people, it was deemed among them to be a good idea. However, what seemed to be right in the eyes of all the people cost a man his life, as God brought a premature end to their celebrations. The fear of God had been lost and God had not been sort after the due order appointed in His Word. Will the Church not take note and return again with fear and trembling back to the objective truth of God’s Word and allow it alone to form the bedrock of truth upon which we stand.