March 10th 2019: Gaius Douglas

Gaius-March19Hebrews 12:1-3

A recent BBC news article written by a researcher was entitled ‘The Era of declining faith.’ One of the greatest problems is the name over the door of a place of worship. So often that name prevents people from associating with you. We must remember we are members of the body of Christ, of the household of faith. We are not Baptist, not Pentecostal, we belong to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the head and we are part of the body. We are members of the body of Christ.

During my last sermon we looked at those who bore the testimony of faith and the others. The others were not mentioned by name but were those who walked that path of faith and who continued in the faith. We also looked at what we should be doing and the hindrances that hold us back. We are not to get entangled in the yoke of bondage but to lay aside entanglements that hinder our testimony, the sin that so easily ensnares us, the pollution of the world. We often, as Christians, like to sit on the fence. We don’t like others to know we are Christians and hide Christ. Some Christians speak to other Christians lovingly, but then speak to others in a totally different way. The language we use with each other is the language we should use with others.

We should run with patience the race that is set. So often we’re so impatient we’re not prepared to listen. We need to run with endurance. What is the race that is set before us? It’s primarily run by Christians. Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour? Do you know what a Christian should look like?

The people who know the Lord Jesus Christ are called the Elect, the saints of God. The first people to be called Christians were at Antioch. The word Christian is only used three times in the Bible. A Christian is a person who has confessed Jesus as Saviour, who is born again of God, born of the Spirit, washed in His blood. Christ has redeemed us, bought us to Himself by His precious blood. Zechariah 4:6.

Saying you are a Christian does not make you a Christian. Have you been born of God, redeemed by His precious blood? Jonah made this wonderful testimony when vomiting out of the big fish, ‘Salvation is of the LORD,’ (Jonah 2:9).

So we’ve been redeemed. In this race that we’re in there are visitors and those who will try to prevent us from running it. The race has been determined already, set out by God Himself. The length of the race has been appointed already. There is an opposition to us running that race. But the Bible tells us we will be victorious because God is in that race. He will be with us. We’re running here in Roch. Every part of us is in that race. You cannot be a Christian today and not tomorrow, a Christian in the chapel today and not tomorrow outside. You belong to Jesus and Jesus belongs to you. You cannot be a part-time Christians. We’re in His race. It involves every part of us; physically, emotionally and spiritually. Jesus saved every part of us and brought us to newness of life. We are a new creation. He has changed a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. The race is run in the world.

There’s a prize – eternal glory. Are you excited about the glory to come? Jesus has gone back into heaven, He is crowned with glory and honour. He’s promised that glory to every believer in Christ – the eternal glory, born of His Spirit, born of His blood. John 17:24. In the race we are running we are being changed day by day, being more like Him.

It’s a race of endurance, looking to Jesus. How wonderful! The Lord Jesus Christ is the example, He is the one who has gone before us, He is the forerunner in this race. There is nothing that we will experience in this race that He can’t help us with and guide us with. There isn’t a situation that you will ever come across that He can’t help with. In Galatians 2:20 we read Paul was crucified with Christ, yet alive. Christ lives in me. He is the one who has died for us.

Sometimes, in our Christian life, we don’t want to face situations we don’t want – suffering, those who will hate us. John 17:14. The Lord Jesus Christ said we will suffer if we stand for Him.

There are also other runners in this race. Matthew 13, the Parable of the tares and wheat illustrates this. Wheat has a very identifiable head but the tares, a type of rye grass, are very similar. In the parable the servant recognised in the field something else was growing besides the wheat. He pointed it out to the owner, who said it must not be pulled up but grow together with the wheat. It would be rooted out at harvest time and burned. This speaks of judgement. In churches there are those who are true believers and those who are not. Some never trust Christ as their Saviour but attack Christians. Being a member of a church doesn’t say you know Christ as your Saviour.

To know Christ is to confess Him as Saviour, being washed by His previous blood. You need to know where you stand. We need to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew 11:28. We need to share Christ with others. We are to live Christ, to live for the glory of Christ. As we run this race He wants us to share Him, to bring satisfaction to His Name. As we share Christ in our Christian path, others will want to know Christ.

The same one who has run that race, a perfect race, is the same one who is helping us to run that race, who wants us to share Christ, live for His glory and be a testimony. Let us not be afraid of the Word of God. Live it! Run it! Come unto Him, Isaiah 40, For His glory and His Praise.

December 23rd 2018: Gaius Douglas

Gaius-December2018‘Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.’

Philippians 2:9-10

God has highly exalted Jesus and given Him a name, a name above every name. Jehovah has always been there but now He is Jehovah Saviour.

Peter says, in Acts 2, that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, Jehovah Saviour. We celebrate His birthday, but it should not just be 25th December, but all year.

We have traded the Christ of Christmas and brought Him down to nothing. Yet God has highly exalted Him. If God thinks so much of His Son, why shouldn’t we?

In the Bible names characterize a person; parents give names as a desire to be part of their character and what they should do. God has changed names. Many parents decide what they want their children to be like but God may have a different purpose.

Olivia comes from the root word ‘olive’. An olive is a very important plant used for sacrificial oil. Olivia means peace. I wonder, when we give our children names, do they live up to their name? There are lots of Johns at Penuel. John means ‘God is gracious.’ This name gives a massive responsibility. We have the name ‘Chris.’ There are no Christopher’s in the Bible but Chris is a shortened version of Christ and means a follower of Christ, a carrier of Christ. There is a desire of parents or God to display characteristics of a name. Are we displaying the responsibility of who we are as Christians in this world?

In Genesis 17 we read how God called Abram out of the land he was in. Abram was already exalted, already displaying the characteristics God saw in him. God calls us and transforms us like unto Himself. God called Abram, He told him He would make him ‘the father of many nations’ (Genesis 17:6), a father of multitudes. So God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Abram was already an exalted father caring for his whole family but God wanted something bigger, more wonderful, to make him highly exalted. God planned for him to be ‘the father of many nations’ (Genesis 17:4). Through Abraham’s offspring, his seed Isaac, God would establish His plans. Abraham later married again after his wife died, having six sons. Today, in the Middle East, Abraham is still referred to as their father. He is the father of every child of faith. We too can look to Abraham as our father.

Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, was also known as Israel. At the end of his life (Genesis 49), he called his family together to bless them. He called his firstborn, Reuben, whose name means excellence, power and dignity. But unfortunately Reuben did not live up to his name and Jacob called him ‘unstable as water’ (Genesis 49:4). He called his next two sons, Simeon and Levi, ‘instruments of cruelty’ (Genesis 49:5). Here was a disappointed father. Then he called Judah; he was so pleased Judah had lived up to the qualities and characteristics of his name. Judah was the premier tribe who led Israel into battle. From the line of Judah came Jesus. John, in his vision, saw it was the ‘Lion of the tribe of Judah’ who can open the seven seals (Revelation 5:5).

Today we celebrate the name above all names, the one who will lead forth the armies of God. He is the one we read of in Genesis 49:10, ‘The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.’

Jacob looked forward to the day when Shiloh would come. Shiloh means peace, Jesus is the King of peace. Are we looking forward to the day when Christ will come? On December 25th how much of our thoughts will be on the Christ of Christmas? Christ is the one who is worthy.

Abram means exalted father. Abraham means highly exalted father. God has transformed him. This is what God has done with us, He has taken the Johns and the Chris’ and given us a new name, ‘But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name’ (John 1:12). We are ‘sons of God.’ It’s a position, we are no longer known by name but by our position.

God gave His Son a new name; He has given us a new name and He wants us to live up to that name. Jesus, who was so highly exalted, became so low. He came, not touched by human hand, but placed into the womb by the Holy Spirit. He was born, lived and died in my place on Calvary. What great condescension! He came down that He might raise us up. As He is exalted, so we are too. This is an everlasting covenant, this is glory. We are joint heirs with Christ. We will reign with Him forever.

Lots of people try to take Christ out of Christmas, changing it to Xmas. But we can’t take Christ out of Christmas or Xmas. Even ‘x’ the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet (pronounced ‘chi’), means ‘Christ.’ Even though we try to take Christ out of Christmas, we can’t.

Don’t forget Christ this Christmas, don’t set Him aside. He is the greatest gift of all.

February 25th 2018: Paul Daniel

Paul Daniel-feb 18Philippians 3: 1-15

It is crucial to repeat messages. Even Paul said, right at the beginning of this chapter, “To write the same things to you is no trouble to me.” Have you ever been conned? We live in a society where we shop online. People put reviews online, sometimes complaining because they don’t want anyone else to get conned. When you look at this chapter, it’s all about Paul writing to the Philippians to safeguard them from being conned. It’s a joy to him to remind them.

C.S. Lewis said Jesus is either a liar, a  lunatic or Lord. If He really is who He says He is, you can’t afford to ignore Him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). When you consider what Jesus says, is He trying to con people into following Him? Paul is trying to safeguard the people into following Jesus, not being conned by others. Jesus fulfilled all righteousness. He died on a cross, not because He was guilty, but so others could be forgiven of their sin. He rose three days later and later appeared to others before ascending into heaven. Today, there is a God-Man in heaven who intercedes on our behalf. Paul wants to make sure people don’t get confused. The moment you think you can’t get conned is the moment the devil begins his work. It is necessary to repeat the gospel message.

Paul warns us to watch out for legalism. Listen to Paul. He was circumcised on the eighth day as God’s law required. He was chosen by God, part of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews, full of tradition, wanting to do everything in every area of his life. He was a Pharisee, one of those who would take God’s word so seriously, they started making their own laws. He was righteous under the law. Paul wanted the people to listen to him. All his qualities and heritage (verse 7), he counted as loss, as rubbish. Here is the one person you think ought to listen to, yet he says all his achievements are worthless because he knows that those things can’t make you righteous before God. He knows if you try and work so hard to keep the law, you are under a curse. No-one is justified by works. Achieving all these things, as impressive as they are, doesn’t deal with sin – separation from God. The wonder of the gospel – none of us deserves anything but God’s judgement and curse – but Christ comes to redeem us, to buy us back by becoming a curse for us. When He hangs on the cross He deals with all that stands against us.

How do you measure yourself? We measure ourselves often by what people say. The real measure is what people can’t see or can’t hear – when no-one’s eyes are on us, what we think inside our minds. It’s all the hidden sins. God sees and hears everything. Do we measure ourselves by what we portray ourselves to be? God sees us as sinners who have broken His law and are under a curse. Yet He still loves us, sent His Son for us, and is still willing to keep us. All that we are and all that we’re not, and all that we’d like to hide, God still loves us. Let’s not con ourselves and be conned.

What does Paul want to do when he sees all his achievements as rubbish? He wants to count everything else as loss, he wants to know Christ, to know his Saviour. Nothing else compares, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (Philippians 3:7). It’s a really hard thing to say that you count everything as loss. Knowing Jesus is worth more than my health, my house, bank balance, friends, my reputation, anything else. In the context of eternity, all that we strive for lasts a short time. Knowing Christ, being with Him for ever and ever, is our desire. Stop investing in yourself, don’t rest in earthly achievements. Pursue Christ and His kingdom. Seek Him. Be satisfied in Jesus and in Jesus alone. Don’t think you can find life and eternity and resurrection apart from in Jesus, in Christ. Don’t be conned, don’t miss out. Paul doesn’t want anyone to miss out (verses 11-15). He’s pressing on to what lies ahead. We want to see Jesus. We need to hear the gospel and share the gospel. We want people to come to Jesus and put their faith in Him.

February 18th 2018: Owen Jones

Owen Jones-Feb18Ephesians 5:32 ‘A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’

There is a mystery in the mystical union we have with Christ. There are metaphors that make the mystery a little clearer. In days gone by, when romance was in the air a couple could be referred to as ‘courting.’ Today, ‘being an item’ is often used. We are more than an item. The relationship between the church and the Lord Jesus Christ is an unbreakable union, it is already in being. Every believer becomes part of the bride, the wife. God speaks about us as the bride, the wife. Psalm 45. Every truly born-again believer is ultimately joined in unity with Christ. This presents the loveliest picture of two being one.

How should we look right now and on that future day? We see the bride united as: a faithful wife, a fruitful wife and as a beautiful, breathing-taking wife.

United as a faithful wife:
Paul uses beautiful illustrations – the wife is like the church that gives in, ‘Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.’ (Ephesians 5:22). Marriage teaches us at least one thing – giving. Wives submit to husbands, but the bigger picture is lives in submission to Christ. It is part of the creation ordinance and now part of the new creation. When the local church gives in to community and no longer has the Bible at its centre it ceases to be what it once was. Submit to one another in reverence to Christ. Give in to every word because Jesus tells you. As the church submits to Christ, wives submit to husbands. ‘A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ (Ephesians 5:32). Husbands, measure the giving. Who is giving more – her or him? Christ gave Himself up for the church. Giving up – true love – is demonstrated at Calvary. Like Hosea, the prophet. God told Hosea to love his wife as the Lord loves the Israelites. The husband gives his name to his wife, she happily accepts it. They are legally one. How faithful are we to Him, to each other?

United as a fruitful wife:
The spiritual illustration. Remember the higher principal – your union is with Christ. The church is mysteriously joined to Him as a faithful and fruitful wife. The fruit? Holiness. If you are in Christ that’s the fruit you’re going to bear, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.’ (Galatians 5:22-23). It’s all on the one tree, always in blossom, always in season. Jesus said, ‘By their fruits you will know them.’ (Matthew 7:20). The fruit of intimacy, close fellowship, produces its own fruit. As we read His word, He comes to us.

Some marriages fail because couples no longer have anything to say to each other. How long has it been since you talked to the Lord? Couples can live separate lives under one roof. Start talking to one another again. When was the last time you heard the Lord Jesus Christ speak to you?

What about the fruit of increase, the great commission, the bride increasing from the nations? The preaching of the gospel works in people’s hearts and lives, something is being conceived. There’s a birth, an increase.

We also need to know and produce the fruit of Christ’s likeness. Do you think in the same way as Christ thinks? When you speak do others hear the voice of their Saviour? You and I begin to look like the ones we love. When God breathed life into us He breathed knowledge, love and righteousness. In regeneration, He renews that which had been erased at the Fall.

United as a beautiful wife:
This is a profound mystery. There’s no need for make-overs. Why? The marriage day is fully realised in the future (Revelation 19:7), but something is happening now. All the wrinkles and the lines are gone. Jesus must be the centre stage – the wedding day of the Lamb. But look at His Bride, ‘It was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure – for the fair linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.’ (Revelation 19:8). All the tears, all the sorrows cease to be. Let us rejoice and give Him the glory. The Bride has prepared for this day. How? She is dressed in fine linen. Everything we do now prepares us for that holy day (Ephesians 5:26). Then we get married, there’s a new home (Revelation 21:1-3). There’s an RSVP, ‘And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”’ (Revelation 19:9). You are the Bride but you’re invited to be there as a guest. It’s a dual picture.

You will never look as good as you will on that day.

The sands of time are sinking;
the dawn of heaven breaks;
the summer morn I’ve sighed for,
the fair sweet morn awakes;
dark, dark, hath been the midnight,
but dayspring is at hand,
and glory, glory dwelleth
in Emmanuel’s land.

The King there in His beauty
without a veil is seen;
it were a well-spent journey,
though trails lay between:
the Lamb with His fair army
on Zion’s mountain stands,
and glory, glory dwelleth
in Emmanuel’s land.

O Christ, He is the Fountain,
the deep sweet Well of love!
The streams on earth I’ve tasted;
more deep I’ll drink above:
there to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
and glory, glory dwelleth
in Emmanuel’s land.

The bride eyes not her garment,
but her dear bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory,
but on my King of grace;
not at the crown He giveth,
but on His piercèd hand;
the Lamb is all the glory
of Emmanuel’s land.

Ann Ross Cousin (1857)

There will come a day when every eye will be upon Him, when you will behold Him. Are you preparing yourself in acts of righteousness?

 

 

November 19th 2017: Ian Jones

Ian Jones-November 17John 4:43-54: Jesus heals the Nobleman’s Son

We remember those in the Bible we hear a lot about – Abraham, Sarah, Ruth, yet we may forget about those we hear least about, like Elkanah and Malon. What about the nobleman here in John’s gospel? He is only mentioned in John’s gospel.

Jesus had been in Judea and left for Galilee, ‘he left Judea and departed again for Galilee.’ (John 4:3). There was growing opposition from the Pharisees. Jesus, however, didn’t take the normal route around Samaria but went through Samaria because He needed to meet with the woman at the well (John 4). Jesus spent two days here before He left (John 4:43).

Jesus went to Cana, Galilee (John 4:46). John reminds us this was the place whChrere Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding. This marked His great Galilean ministry, which lasted over 16 months. Matthew, Mark and Luke record this but John only records the feeding of the 5,000 and the healing of the nobleman’s son.

Who is this nobleman? He was called a nobleman because he served in the king’s palace. He has a son in Capernaum who was very sick. We expect a man of his position to have sought the very best medical help. However, his son’s sickness got gradually worse. He heard that Jesus was in Galilee and went to implore Him to heal his son, ‘When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to Him and asked Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.’ (John 4:47).

Straight away we have an important lesson. Why do so few people have no need of Christ? Why do so few read the Bible? If people have no need of Christ then hearing about Him will have no effect on their lives. If the nobleman didn’t have a sick son, he would have no interest in seeing Jesus. This is the way God works in his life. Hearing Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, perhaps the nobleman had heard reports of Jesus turning water into wine, or other reports of Jesus’ healing ministry. This gave him the reason to come to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Whatever our needs are in life today, none can be compared to our greatest need to come to Christ. The Lord may work in a physical or spiritual way to bring them to Christ. It’s wonderful to see how the Lord brings us to Christ and works in people’s lives, in the lives of people who had no interest in Christ, yet come to Him. This is what we pray for as a church, for others to come as we have come. As God’s word is preached people may be reminded of their true position – sinners before God – and have a need for their sins to be forgiven, to be restored in fellowship with Christ.

What is even more amazing about this nobleman is that nothing will stop him from coming to Christ. He has a sick son at the point of death yet he went to Christ and implored Him to come to heal his son. It doesn’t matter how far away you are when a loved one is dying, you will want to be with them. The noble man had servants of his own he could have sent to Jesus whilst he stayed at home with his son in those valuable moments. Yet he left his son to go to Jesus Christ, to implore him to heal his son who was at the point of death. The distance would have been about 25 miles and would have taken 4-6 hours travelling. It was a long journey for him, he might never see his son alive again. He would do everything possible to save his son.

Are we willing to do everything possible to bring others to the Lord Jesus Christ, to bring Christ to others? It is easy to sit back and relax. Here we find an encouragement. Are we coming to God in prayer about those who are facing a lost eternity? Are we praying that Christ would restore them and give them life as He has given life to us? The noble man went on that journey to bring Christ to his son. Are we seeking to bring Christ to others?

What did this noble man think about on the journey? He may have wondered what Jesus would say to his request. However, Jesus’ response was not what he wanted to hear, ‘So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”’ (John 4:48).  This would have been a shock to the nobleman. Jesus was not only speaking to him but also to the crowds. When a person comes to Jesus they do not always hear what they want to hear (like the rich young man who asked what he must do to inherit eternal life).

What does the nobleman do when he hears something he doesn’t want to hear? Does he go home? No, because he had a great need. He wasn’t going to give up lightly, ‘The official said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”’ (John 4:49). Again Jesus’ response is not what he wants to hear, ‘Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.”’ (John 4:50). He had been asking Jesus to come and heal his son but the Lord Jesus says, ‘Go.’ This man only had faith that his son would only be made well if the Lord came to his home to heal him. He didn’t have the faith of the centurion.

The Lord does an amazing work – He gives the nobleman the faith so he trusts Christ at His word, ‘The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.’ (John 4:50). We can make excuses not to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the crowd was doing. They wanted proof but the Lord Jesus wanted them to believe first in Him rather than have miracles. What is holding us back from believing in the very word of God? God asks us to simply believe in Him, believe the word of God is true. The nobleman turned and went on his way home, when he was met by one of his servants who told him his son lived. What joy! What confirmation.

God creates a need for us to come to the Lord Jesus Christ. He gives us faith to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, as we walk in faith He gives us confirmation of what we believe. He establishes our faith. He strengthens us in various ways.

Jesus had it that the nobleman’s servant met him. That’s what God does as we walk by faith, as we go through various trials, he establishes us. The Lord doesn’t just leave us when we come to Him. There is confirmation. Twice the nobleman believed; initially, when the Lord told him to go, and again at the end, when he and all his household believed, ‘And he himself believed, and all his household.’ (John 4:53). This is important – the nobleman went on to tell others what had happened.

This was the second sign that Jesus did when he came out of Judea and into Galilee. Both miracles are very similar, they both have people who have great need and who show persistence leading to great faith.

August 27th 2017: Ian Middlemist

Ian-Aug 27th 2017Romans 5:12-21

Israel has two main bodies of water – in the North is the Sea of Galilee, 13 miles long, 7 ½ miles wide, a well-known fishing area with 22 sorts of fish, as well as lush vegetation on the side and a beautiful, fruitful shore. It is a beautiful body of water. In contrast, 60 miles south lies the Dead Sea, 47 miles long, 9 ½ miles wide, full of salt and mineral but with no life, no vegetation, even the shore is barren. This stark contrast is a portrait of spiritual humanity. One sea is full of life and fruitfulness, the other is death and uselessness. There are two classes of people – those in the person of Adam and those in the person of Christ. Adam represents death and uselessness, Christ leads to life. The two men represent the whole of humanity. It is essential we grasp the central message of the Bible. Believers used to be in Adam but now we’re in Christ.

We are all born in Adam:
Paul examines the consequences of Adam’s sin. Adam serves as our representative. He sinned and this sin was applied to every person who has lived or ever will live. Adam perfectly represents humanity. God chose Adam to be our representative. We are sinful. We should be glad God chose Adam, God always knows what He is doing. Some may say that they don’t want to be represented by Adam, they want to represent themselves. The truth is, if you and I had been in the Garden of Eden, we would have committed exactly the same sin.

Christ is our representative as well, He has acted on our behalf too. Adam sank our spiritual boat but God has thrown our life-preserver to us. Adam served as our representative; we are every bit as guilty as he was. But we’re also guilty sinners because we’ve sinned.

The results of sin:
Even before the 10 commandments, sin had exercised power over humanity. But sin is not imputed when there is no law. Imputed means to charge to one’s account. Sin is there but is not accounted as a legal matter. It cannot be punished if there is no acknowledgement. After Adam, God gave no more explicit commands until the time of Moses. Although people sinned from Adam to Moses, people died because they had sinned in Adam. They shared Adam’s punishment because he was their representative.

In Adam we can see a number of principles in Jesus:
       – Adam and Jesus were both real persons;
      – Adam and Jesus both served as representatives for the whole of humanity;
     –  They both drew the world for themselves, one for evil, one for good;
     – Both effected the course of humanity through one single act (Adam taking the                fruit, Jesus dying on the cross).

Humanity is either in Adam or in Christ, it can’t be in both. Death reigns for all mankind in Adam.

All believers are in Christ:
God’s grace is readily available to those who out their faith in Jesus Christ. The promise of eternal life is a free gift. 7 times grace is mentioned in verses 15-21. Salvation is a free gift, no strings attached.

God’s gift brought life to all who are in Him (v.15). Grace is always more powerful than sin. It is a free gift but it was purchased at infinite cost – it cost God the death of His only Son. To think we can earn grace is an insult. Salvation is freely given to you. What a great cost has been paid for you so you can be rescued from Adam’s domain.

‘For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.’ (Romans 5:17). ‘Reign’ comes from the word ‘king.’ We also think of authority, of influence. All of these words are to be applied to you – for you are in Christ and you are to reign in Christ. We have no idea of the sphere of influence we have. Justification is the beginning of salvation. Sanctification is to bring heaven down to earth, to live as God has called you to live in Christ. God is equipping us to rule the world to come.

Instead of us being condemned eternally for our sins, Jesus was condemned. We don’t realise just how much we have received. It’s been given to us at a great cost. Christ brought freedom to the human race, He signed our liberty with His own blood on the cross. Having trusted the Saviour we have the power to turn from sin and live in Him, to live in righteousness. He is our great emancipator.

8th January 2017: Matthew Maxwell-Carr

The Christian Teaching of Original Sin

matthew-maxwell-carr-january-17This is a fundamental Christian teaching, anyone who denies it is a heretic. If you don’t believe it, you empty the gospel of all of its power.

What is original sin?
Often Christians will say because Adam sinned we have a corrupt nature. It’s true – we have inherited a fallen nature. It’s why we find it easy to lose our temper, to be jealous. However, you need to go further back. Ultimately, because of what Adam did, we are all counted guilty for his sin before God. God sees the whole human race through Adam – worthy of eternal death. This is why we are still subject to death the moment we come into this world. The human race is counted worthy of death. But in Jesus Christ, God has chosen to view those who believe in Him as righteous, as Jesus Christ is, and not worthy of death but the riches of glory.

God only sees two men in the human race; all humanity hangs from the girdles of these two men – the first Adam or the second Adam. Forget about good works, works of righteousness which you have done. It is all of faith. The big question is whether you are of Adam or Christ.

Is this a teaching of Scripture?
‘But now, Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.’ (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). Some Corinthians were denying resurrection is possible. Paul says in verse 20, ‘One man brought death into the world, but Christ brought resurrection into the world.’ Are you in Adam or are you in Christ?

‘Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned – For until the law sin was in the world, but sin in not imputed when there is no law.’ (Romans 5:12-13). There was a law given to Adam in the Garden of Eden – don’t eat of the fruit or you shall surely die. From the time of Adam until Moses there were no other laws. Adam transgressed that law. Death reigned during that time. (Romans 5:14). Humanity was in big trouble. Humanity is still in trouble. But in Romans 5:15 we read of the free gift God offers the human race – the free gift of righteousness. When we stand before God all our sins are gone. Paul compares this to the trespass of Adam, he compares and contrasts what Adam and Christ have done. Many died through one man’s offence but God has now flooded people’s lives with grace. The free gift of the gospel came after many, many sins had happened. God sent His Son into this world to bring grace and justification. If you’re justified you are guilty of no crime, you are innocent. That’s how God wants to treat us in Jesus Christ, He wants to see us righteous because of what His Son has done. Enter into this by faith alone.

In verse 17 Paul says because of one man’s sin, through his one offence, death reigns. But in Jesus Christ we have salvation. If you receive that abundance of grace, you receive the gift of righteousness. We are all sinners by nature. Ultimately, we are all guilty of Adam’s sin. Jesus was sent into this world so we might have the gift of righteousness.

‘Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgement came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.’ (Romans 5:18). Judgement will come to all through one man’s offence. We were born into this world worthy of death. But how gracious God is. He chooses to see us fully righteous. If we enter into Jesus Christ, God won’t see all our sin because of the one righteous act of Jesus.  What was this? The giving of His life on the cross. Adam sinned because of a tree. Christ died on a tree, on the cross, in obedience to His Father. Jesus came into this world as the most astounding teacher, but ultimately He came to die, to undo what Adam did. All our sins are blotted out and we are justified. We are righteous because Christ is righteous. God takes it all out of our hands. The righteous act of Jesus Christ takes us into heaven if we believe in the Lord Jesus. Trust in Him, receive Him.

‘For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.’ (Romans 5:19). By one man’s disobedience many were breakers of God’s law. We came into this world, we didn’t choose to be guilt of Adam’s sin, but by God’s grace He sent Christ. It doesn’t depend on our works, what we do. Christ has done it all for us. Be saved! What a gracious set up! Believe in Jesus Christ and you will be reckoned to be fully righteous before God. By His mercy He saved us.

 ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.’ (Ephesians 2:9). You have to believe. Just get into Christ, look to Him, see Christ crucified for your sins.

 

Contentment in Christ – whatever our situation

Do you ever think ‘What if’, ‘if only’ or ‘why me?’ I know I ask these questions and all too often! It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking we ourselves can alter and shape the future. We evaluate our situation and if we are not completely satisfied the questions begin. As someone who is far too familiar with the ‘valleys’ in life, the doubts and questions can become burdensome. We’ve been taught that contentment is linked to our accomplishments or accumulation of satisfaction from the world. These questions can never be fully answered and since there is no end to our desires to acquire or do more, the horizon is always moving. We will never experience contentment following this line of thinking.

The true meaning of contentment is being satisfied with what you have and with who you are – right now, always being content that the Lord provides everything you need. Despite the many trials Paul went through he understood how to be content. In Philippians 4:11-13 he wrote,

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Contentment doesn’t have anything to do with external influences; rather it has everything to do with God and how He is moulding us and refining us all for His glory. The good news is that we all can learn how to become fully content with who we are, what we are, and what we’re doing.  Through our relationship with Jesus Christ, we can learn how to be content by thanking God for what we do have instead of focusing on what we don’t have.

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

The key is to be confident in the knowledge you can do all things through Him who gives you strength. This only occurs by faith, moment by moment.

The apostle Paul highlighted the importance of living life as we are called to do. 1 Corinthians 7 verse 17 states ‘Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.’  Paul emphatically states that God has sovereignty over all things and He has assigned each believer with a place in life, and it is from where we are situated now that the Lord will use us. Every day, God places us where we need to be in order to serve Him. Our ‘place’ in this world is not determined by chance, but has been carefully crafted and weaved into a grand design.

So what happens when we reach the valley and all looks bleak? In our own strength we crumble and cannot cope with the burdens of life, but with God everything is possible. We may feel unable to carry on, but the God of the mountaintop is still the same God in the valley.  He is able to remove us from the difficult situation, but that isn’t always helpful. There is always a reason for our circumstances – whether to learn something new or to remold us in Christ. But the most important thing, above all else, our circumstances are given to us to glorify the Lord and become trophies of His grace. God is Sovereign over all things – good and the not so good. The difficulties we experience don’t happen to us by chance, but we know that there is good in every situation. We may not see it immediately and we may ask. ‘Why is this happening?’ but during these times we need to thank God and trust in Him.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  – Jeremiah 29:11

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

Mike Reeves – Aber Conference 16

Mike Reeves gave an uplifting message at the EMW Aber Conference on Wednesday 10th August. Preaching on ‘The Lord’s Desire’ from Isaiah 61:10 to 62:5 we learnt that this song sings out one of the great anthems of the Bible – of Christ the Bridegroom who comes to win and love His Bride, His most precious treasure. We were challenged to go forth as brightness into a world of darkness, rejoicing as He rejoices over us.https://youtu.be/n6LeA71OFkw

On the 11th August we listened to Mike Reeves speak on ‘God’s Transforming Glory’ as he preached from 2 Corinthians 3: 7-18. He challenged us to realise that what we look at transforms us. Look to Christ. He displays His glory in forgiving sinners. When Christians see the glory of Christ they blossom. Christ’s glory warms us, wakes us up, shines a light. Fix your gaze on Jesus, on the glory of Christ, and you will have a new passion, a desire to make Jesus known. https://youtu.be/ewKTYfL4sXg

Sunday Morning: 19th June 2016

Gaius-june16.jpgOur worship was led by Gaius Douglas who preached from 2 Timothy chapter 3. Gaius challenged us by asking what we are doing for the Lord. Are we warning the people of the dangers? The God of eternity, who stepped into time and in the person of His Son died for our sins. Are you concerned for the people of Pembrokeshire, those heading for a lost eternity?

We live in perilous times but it doesn’t matter where we are, God has His people everywhere. Yet there are those who say they believe in God but do not believe in the Word of God. True Christians stick to the Word of God, no matter what.

God has given us the greatest teacher of all, the Holy Spirit. Can you discern what is true and what is not? We need to be discerning. In the Scriptures we read about the hinderer. There is no mention of the ‘hinderer’ but we come across the word ‘resist’ –“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” There is a devil who is there to hinder us, to blind our eyes, to say there is no God. Satan sows the thoughts of confusion in our hearts.

2 Corinthians 4: 3-4 tells us there is spiritual blindness to those who are unsaved, even to those who are saved.

In our church today there are those who are masquerading as Christians. They are there to deceive, to falsely proclaim the Gospel. The devil masquerades as the angel of light. In 2 Corinthians chapter 11 verse 14 we read, “For Satan himself transforms himself unto an angel of light.” Arm yourselves with the mighty arm of God.

Exegesis allows the Word of God to lead you. However, there are those who call themselves ‘liberal’ Christians, those who dismantle the Word of God to make it socially acceptable to man, not God.

Isaiah chapter 59. When was the last time you quarrelled with God, when you questioned God? Psalm 121 tells us that God is listening to us, He will preserve us, He is concerned for us. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we are told to “Pray without ceasing.” The Lord has not stopped praying for us.

We live in perilous times, heed the Word of God. Be witnesses for God, tell others what God has done for you. When was the last time you told others what God has done for you? If you know Christ, tell others. Stand firm for Christ.