There are some Christians who hearts it seems are failing in these days on account of the great evil of our day. 365 days a year 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, news outlets pump news around the globe. What type of news are we talking about, good news? The herald of Christ’s glorious appearing? News that the beast and the false prophet have a certain appointing unto destruction? News that in sounding of the seventh trumpet, the mystery of God should be finished, and “...The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:5)? Is it this type of news we hear? Is it this type of truth that Christians generally are consuming themselves with? In my experience, no!! 24-7-365 the news generally that Christians are filling themselves with is bad news and on account of this, as well as the world’s hearts failing them for fear of looking after those things that are coming upon the earth, Christians hearts are failing them also for fear, on account of the constant barrage of evil report which they are willingly subjecting themselves to.
The invitation and call that goes forth in this sermon for God’s people to start looking up!! It is only by allowing the Word of God to be the foundation upon which our faith rests that we shall find in Christ the grace to put into perspective the difficult days that lie ahead. May we be found with our eyes on Jesus and not on the world!
Will we not look hard and steadfast in amazement at a sight so seldom seen in a world where vexation and conflict seem to abound on every hand? From the very dawn of time, friction and strife has marred the family of God’s creation; Cain and Abel; Sarah and Hagar; Isaac and Ishmael; Jacob and Esau; Joseph and his siblings; Moses and his kindred; David and Eliab; Hannah and Peninnah and so the list could go on through time. Even in the days that our Lord walked the earth, His own brothers after the flesh did not believe in Him (Jn. 7:5). Yet, as a glimmering light shining forth into a sin filled world, the words of the sweet Psalmist David cast their rays of hope and call the world to take note; “Behold (arrest your attention; fix your gaze upon), how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1).
Wherever true unity exists in a local body of believers, it’s there God commands a blessing! However, equally, wherever this true unity exists, Satan prowls the perimeter of that assembly seeking a way in which to sow discord into their midst. A Church divided is a Church destroyed. Dear Brothers and Sisters, it is incumbent upon us all that we endeavor with everything in us to strive to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. When Satan finds a willing vessel through which to sow disunity, there’s no end of the destruction that is wrought amongst the assembly of God’s children. By God’s grace, may we not be such tools in the devil's hands.
Part 23 – What Is Church?
We are living at a time in history where it seems that anything that is of long standing tradition is being called into question. Renewed calls go forth on every side, calling for change. Out with the old and in with the new is the resounding voice of this post-modern generation. Whether it’s marriage; the family home; politics or education; that which once served our forefathers well for centuries and in some cases, from the dawn of time, is being re-examined in light of the new-fangled philosophies being offered by the so-called experts. Sadly, as one looks to the Church, it too follows suit with this itching craving for that which is new. In a period where Church attendance in the West is in decline and atheism and secularism is on the rise, fighting for its “perceived” survival, the Church believes that unless it becomes relevant to this “youth” driven generation, then it will disappear from society and die of old age (literally). In an effort to try and retain the young people who are leaving the Church in their droves, the Church feels pressured to rediscover itself and if need be, reinvent itself to meet the needs of a changing population. Everything from “who” constitutes the Church to the “way” we ought to do Church is on the table for consideration. High-tech marketing research companies are being employed to find out what the local communities want from their local Church in the hope that Church attendance might be boosted and the needs of the community met. Fun days replete with BBQ and games; a nursery for the toddlers; a coffee shop; sports events and a whole host of other amusements ranging from Bingo to Yoga; all now are high on the priority list of what is deemed to make a “successful” Church. In a vastly changing tolerant society, it is felt that the Church’s decline is owing to the fact that the Church has lost touch with the people. However, upon closer inspection, we shall see that losing touch with people is not the root of the Church’s problem so much as it is that the Church has lost touch with God.
In this twenty-third teaching part, we shall explore from Holy Scripture “who” and “what” the Church is.
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There’s a testimony to be had in the midst of trial and sufferings that attests wholeheartedly to the faithfulness of a God who honours His Word!! “...for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. (Heb. 13:5-6). This is the testimony of David, you can’t argue with it!! But for some of us perhaps, if we’re being perfectly honest with ourselves and more importantly, if we’re being honest before God, we have to confess that this is not our present testimony. We cannot confidently say as the writer of Hebrews; “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear…” The plain truth of the matter is that we are fearful and do not know in our current experience, the authenticity of David’s testimony and on account of this, instead of these words bringing peace and comfort to your soul, the words of the Psalmist are a source of agitation to you. The great challenge for the Christian in the midst of any hardship is to bring into living experience, that which is written!!! There is an experience to be had Brethren that can only be laid hold of by faith. Will we not put our trust in the Lord, that in our present day, we might live to see the goodness of God in the land of the living?
It appears that sermons on sin are about as popular as snails on toast! Yet Brethren, it ought not to be; a simple shift in geographical locale make’s a world of difference. You see...snails for the French are what Yorkshire Puddings are for us Brits; they love the former and we love the latter. Had we been bought up in the suburbs of Lyon or Paris, then we too most likely would have been eating those slippery fellows and loving every minute of it! The place of our birth matters!! What used to be our finest delicacy by reason of us being born into this world, is now our most detested by reason of us being born-again. That which we once detested, we now love. Light and darkness; good and evil; righteousness and sin. Sin ought to be for the Christian what snails are to the Brits; disgusting, vulgar; sickening!!
As Christians, we cannot have it both ways; either we are Christians given to holiness or sinners given to sin!! This idea that a Christian is a sinning Saint in limbo cannot be found in the New Testament and is a great deception that has served to comfort many a professor of religion in their sin and give impetus for them to continue in this way untroubled. However, when one opens the New Testament, such faulty reasoning is blown to smithereens and the safety net of false hope is cut down. Will we not face this verse honestly and ask ourselves this questions; what door of sin have we left open in our lives? What besetting sin are we still making allowances for?
Part 22 – How do I Evangelise?
When we say that we are Christian, more often than not we attach a number of adjectives in front of the word in order to try to bring greater clarity as to the type of Christian we mean. Such adjectives include ‘born-again’ and ‘Bible-believing’. There is a third adjective that we also commonly use and that is ‘Evangelical’. When we use the term ‘Evangelical’, what we’re saying is this; we believe wholeheartedly in the saving power of the gospel and therefore seek actively to proclaim that gospel to a lost and dying world. The word ‘evangelical’, comes from the Greek word “euaggelion” which means a good message; good news, hence the word ‘gospel’ which in Greek is the word “euaggelion”.
Despite the pressures being laden upon us by the P.C. agenda of our day; we are not to shrink back from the mandate of proclaiming the good news of the gospel, set against the backdrop of the ruin and sinfulness of man. Admittedly, this is not a popular message in our post-modern society which detests absolutes. Yet, it is not bigoted to state that Jesus is the only way to the Father, nor is it unloving to tell men that unless they turn from their sin in repentance, casting themselves upon the mercy of the Saviour they will be eternally damned. If these things are true, which God affirms they are; then it is out of love that we are moved by the Holy Spirit to tell a lost humanity of the love of God towards them in sending His Son to be crucified for their sins and raising Him from the dead that they might be saved from the wrath come and have eternal life. May God help us in this weighty endeavour and lead us in this great calling to be Christ’s ambassadors!
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In the opening of what has been termed, the second general epistle of Peter; Peter the servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, writes exhorting the Body of Christ, calling them unto a faith that is practical!! The great challenge that comes to mind at recurring intervals in my life is this; how much of what I walked in yesterday, am I still walking in today? Or upon reflection in looking back, can I pinpoint a period of time when my faith was stronger; my love more earnest; my life more pure; my mind more singularly focussed? I don’t know about you, but there’s one thing that terrifies me, and it’s this...to live on the back of a reputation that is no longer an actuality in my present life!! Is my faith living today? Is my love fervent and burning today? Am I walking in forgiveness today? Am I winning in the battle against sin and temptation today? Am reflecting the mind and character of Christ today?
Brethren, we cannot rest in yesterday’s victories; today is a new day and another new day called tomorrow dawns upon us!! The crowning jewel in the fruit that ought to be found in us and abounding is that of love!! God help us to this end, that we might consider one another.