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.

Advertisements

October 22nd 2017: Andy Christofides

Andy Christofides-Oct 2017One life, what’s it all about?

For our Mission Sunday morning service Andy spoke on three points about heaven:

Where is heaven?
What’s it like?
What’s the key to the door? How can I be sure of going there?

Where is heaven?
In 2010 55% of people in the UK believed in heaven. 95% of people in South Africa believed in heaven. Belinda Carlisle once sang that ‘heaven is a place on earth.’ It’s not! People tend to believe it’s ‘up there somewhere.’ It’s not so much ‘up there,’ it’s a real location. The Bible explains heaven is the unreached presence of God. Sometimes, a little bit of heaven impinges on earth. The shepherds on the hillside saw and heard an angelic choir as God burst in. Heaven appeared briefly when the disciples witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration, then disappeared again. There will come a time when the trumpet will sound and His glory will appear. Heaven is the immediate presence of God.

What is heaven like?
In John 14 Jesus Christ speaks a little about heaven, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubles. You believe in God; believe also in me.’ (John 14:1). Trust in God, give Jesus the same amount of trust. When the Apostle Paul thinks of his troubles, he thinks of them as being light and momentary, not worth comparing to eternal glory. Troubles are very real to us but there’s something coming far better for the believer that wipes it all away. Keep your eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus calls heaven ‘My Father’s House.’ It’s a lovely phrase. It’s a place where families get together – one dwelling place. We are all together, there are no divisions, we all get along. “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). The King James Version states, “In my Father’s house are many mansion.” It is spacious. All have a place to dwell. It’s a great truth. There are some pretty great mansions on earth with spectacular views, but these are nothing compared to what we will have in heaven.

When Paul writes to the Corinthians he quotes Isaiah, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived – the things God has prepared for those who love Him,” (I Corinthians 2:9). Those who love Him  – that’s the key to entering heaven.

Paul also writes (in the third person, although he is speaking of himself), ‘I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows. And I know that this man … was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.’ (2 Corinthians 12:2 &4). Paul had a glimpse of the third heaven – the dwelling place of God. He saw and heard inexpressible things. What will heaven sound like? The sounds of heaven will be far superior to anything we’ve ever heard.

Heaven is a place prepared for us, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). Everything is prepared, nothing will be out of place.

Our body is just a shell. I’m an eternal soul. I’m spirit. My body can move. I’m the bit that thinks, communicates ideas, thoughts and soundwaves. When I die my body goes into the ground but my spirit lives on. When Christ returns I get a new body.

Jesus Christ had a physical resurrected body. He could eat and drink. He could appear and suddenly disappear; at the Ascension He was talking to the disciples then disappeared. So our resurrected bodies will be physical, spiritual bodies, able to move around freely, travelling great distances.

Revelation 21 is highly symbolic of something wonderful. It’s a parallel to Revelation 7:16-17, ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘He will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” We will never again hunger or thirst. Eating and drinking will have no side effects. There will be feasting. There will be no sorrows, no painful memories of things that happened on earth. The judge of all the earth will have done right. There will be no sin in heaven.

Isaac Watts writes,

Sin, my worst enemy before,
Shall vex my eyes and ears no more;
MY inward foes shall all be slain,
Nor Satan break my peace again.

Heaven will have mansions of glory and endless delight. Heaven’s gates are always open and light always shines. Heaven is home. It’s there we will be satisfied.

How do we get there?
Thomas asked Jesus “How can we know the way?” To which He replied, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

‘I am’ is ego-centric. Too many people make the fundamental mistake of wanting to reform their own lives. It won’t get you to heaven. Going to church is very good, something you should do – but it won’t get you to heaven. Even going twice to church, attending mid-week meetings, reading the Bible and praying is all great – but it won’t get you to heaven. In every other religion it’s what you have to do. Even in some churches! There are some parents who believe that because they are Christened they will go to heaven. Or they may think that because they have family who believe they are Christians so this gives them access to heaven. Some say they believe in God – even demons believe in God – and tremble!

Jesus is the one who gets you to heaven. He is the door, the gate to the sheepfold. It’s not what you do that gets you to heaven. If you want to get to heaven, it happens through Jesus Christ, He is the only way. He is the only one who has dealt with the problem – sin. Our concern ought primarily to be God. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27). Love God. He is your creator.

When things go wrong people shake their fists at God and blame Him. Yet when things go right it’s all ‘me’. God sent His Son Jesus, the second person of the Triune God, to deal with sin. Why? So we can go to heaven. Why? Because He loves us. God sent Jesus to earth. He lived a perfect life. He met God’s demands. He’s our representative. He went to Calvary, laid down His life. Isaiah foresaw this 700 years earlier, ‘But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.’ (Isaiah 53:5). When Jesus went to Calvary He took on Hell. It’s love. ‘But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Romans 5:8). He died the death for us. Because He did nothing wrong, death is conquered.

Jesus Christ is the only one who has dealt with the problem. All I need to do is rest in His finished work.

Will you be there? If you are not sure, why not? The door is wide open. Faith implies repentance, repentance implies faith. The good news is God wants us in heaven. What do you want for eternity?

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.

 

 

Sunday 22nd November – Morning Serivce

Gareth Nov 2015Last Sunday Reverend Doctor Gareth Edwards preached from 1 Peter chapter 3 verse 18. The Christians of the time knew great suffering and Peter encouraged them to think of Christ’s suffering. The Christians suffered unjustly, following in the steps of their Lord. He also suffered unjustly. Peter encouraged them to look to Jesus for hope, comfort, joy and strength. He died for the forgiveness of our sins and we will share in His Glory. The suffering of Christians can never compare to the depth of the suffering of Christ. Christ’s suffering was sufficient suffering, it was substitutionary suffering and it was successful suffering.

Sufficient Suffering:
Christ suffered once for sin. This draws a contrast with the Old Testament sacrificial system which offered daily sacrifices – for centuries blood flowed. In Passover alone a quarter of a million sheep would have been sacrificed. But Christ suffered once, one sacrifice. Once does not require any repetition; it is valid for ever. Jesus gave out His triumphant cry, “It is finished!” Hebrews 10: 11-16. Christ offered a single sacrifice for sin and sat down at the right hand of God. In His death Christ satisfied the righteousness of God. He paid in full, completely cleansing the sin of those who believe in Him. There is full atonement. His suffering was more than enough for our salvation. He purchased forgiveness for us. He alone draws us into a living relationship with our maker. Acts 4:12 It doesn’t matter how great your sin has been – Jesus’ death is sufficient enough to wash away your guilt. Don’t beat yourself up, you need to trust in Him.

Substitutionary Suffering:
1 Peter 2:24 Christ Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree. He is the righteous one, He takes our place. 2 Corinthians 5:21 Our salvation depends on two things: Jesus’ ability to pay for our sins and His willingness to pay. He demonstrated this with His voluntarily giving on the cross on our behalf. He died at the hands of men who falsely accused Him, He died for sinful men who deserved to be condemned by Him. He unjustly suffered for us who deserve eternal condemnation. Christians suffer unjustly but it is nothing compared to the suffering of Christ. His suffering was in our place. He substituted Himself for me. The penalty for our sin, which is death, has been paid by the Saviour because of His infinite love for us. We died 2000 years ago in the person of Jesus Christ. His finished work is the basis of our salvation. In His suffering Jesus took my place, my place personally. He has a personal interest in the salvation of each one of us because He has a personal love for each one of us. Do you know Him? No matter what you suffer it is nothing compared to Christ’s death. We can’t share the glory and blessings unless we take Him to be our Saviour.

Successful Suffering:
Jesus is the one who introduces us to God. Hebrews 6:19-20. He makes the way open to us to God the Father. At His death the thick veil that guarded the Holy of Holies, that symbolised that men could not have access to God, was torn from top to bottom. Christ had gone to God the Father, He made the way possible to God. He clothes us in righteousness and presents us. Hebrews 10:19-22.The Saviour’s sufferings were not in vain. Through His blood we have atonement. Jesus’ mission was an unqualified success. We have been inducted into the same fellowship with God the Father that Jesus, as the perfect God-Man, enjoys. Let us not be slow to approach Him in prayer. We are to make the most of our access to God, there is no limitation. It is open access every minute of every day because Jesus was completely successful in His sufferings. Those who trust in Jesus Christ as their Saviour will be in heaven for eternity. We are fully forgiven and have eternal fellowship with our God. Nothing can change that.