September 4th 2022: Mike Viccary

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Jeremiah 17: 12-14

Jeremiah was a prophet who had the dubious privilege of prophesying when Israel was about to go into captivity. Here we have the chapter opening with a very clear state of the nation. In verses 5-8 a great contrast is shown between those who trust mankind and those who trust God. There are only two religions: trusting in man – humanism, man-made ideas, or trusting in God. The contrast between the two kinds of people is followed by a statement about man. Then we come to a glorious statement of the Lord and His rule, in verses 12-13, and what will happen to these two types of people. This is followed in verses 14-18 by Jeremiah’s prayer. The passage ends on keeping and breaking the Sabbath day. This is to remind us that the law still stands. Christ has kept the law for us.

In verses 12-14 we see:            The glory of God
                                                 Those who forsake the Lord
                                                 A plea for healing and salvation

  1. The Glory of God.

In chapter 9 we read, ‘Thus says the Lord:

“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches.”’

This is a picture of the glory of the Lord. There are three points to note here in Jeremiah 17:12-14:

a). The glorious high throne from the beginning.

“A glorious high throne from the beginning
Is the place of our sanctuary.”
Jeremiah 17:12

This is a remarkable description. God rules not in Jerusalem, Moscow or Parliament, He rules from heaven. God’s rules has always been. From the beginning there has been this glorious high throne which is the place of our sanctuary (Revelation 4/5, a picture of the throne room in heaven). The Lord Himself is our sanctuary. At this time, Jerusalem was going to be over-run by Nebuchadnezzer and the temple was going to be destroyed. Jeremiah’s contemporary, Ezekiel, prophesied at the time when they had been over-run. Whilst Ezekiel is prophesying, the Lord says to him, “Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.” (Ezekiel 11:16). Remember, the Lord Jesus told the woman of Samaria that it was no longer in a location, Jerusalem or Samaria, that people would worship; it was in spirit and truth.

 The glorious high throne, where Christ has ascended – He who took our sins and paid for them in full – because we are in Him by faith, we are seated with Him in heaven. Remarkable! This book is written in Hebrew, and we miss the beauty of the Hebrew language; it is a very melodic, alliterative language. This is something to get excited about. A glorious high throne, from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary. Where do you live? I live with Christ, in heaven. The sanctuary is the holy place. If you’re in Christ, you’ve dealt with the issue of sin.

This throne is spoken of, particularly in the Psalms: 11:4, 104:19, 47:8, 93:2, 97:2, 89. God is sovereign. Whilst we rejoice that we dwell with God, judgement will come (Psalm 9:7). Given that we are with Him, this is emphasised in Hebrews 12:22-24, we are in that throne room by the Spirit. We too have the authority that’s vested in God. We have power over the devil (James) but can’t do it on our own, we need Him every moment. You have the power over the sin in your life. Go to the Father and you will have power. Why? Christ has paid for our sin. We also have the power of preaching, teaching and sharing the gospel.

b). The law of the hope of Israel.

“O Lord, the hope of Israel,
All who forsake You shall be ashamed.”
Jeremiah 17:13a

The law of the hope of Israel (also in Jeremiah 14:8). The law is our hope. We are concerned with knowing Christ. ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’ He is our hope. It’s a sure hope (Hebrews 10:19). Peter describes it as a living hope which comes from new birth. This hope is knowing Christ in His fulness. One day I will see Him! Paul talks about the ‘hope of the call.’

We’re given this hope as a gift. What shall we do with it?
– Be ready to give a defence. How are you going to show or tell other people? I’d like to encourage all of you to come along to Bible Study.
– Having this hope leads us to further purification. ‘Be holy for I am holy.’
– Hope also comes with patience (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Because we know Christ, we know He is going to do all things just at the right time.

c). The fountain of living waters (see also Jeremiah 2).

“Those who depart from Me
Shall be written in the earth,
Because they have forsaken the Lord,
The fountain of living waters.”

Jeremiah 17:13b

Astonishing! Every time we take our eyes off Christ, we stumble. The nation of Israel had gone far, far away from God. This fountain of living waters speaks of pure satisfaction. It is the Lord God Himself. The fountain continually supplies the water. Running water is living water, which is fresh. Christ, our Triune God, supplies life. He made us, we did not make ourselves. Living waters are the very source of life.

These are three remarkable pictures of our Lord.

  • Two things for those who forsake the Lord.

“O Lord, the hope of Israel,
All who forsake You shall be ashamed.

Those who depart from Me
Shall be written in the earth,

Because they have forsaken the Lord,
The fountain of living waters.”
Jeremiah 17:13

  1. They will be shamed. Sadly, Jeremiah had to report that they sinned with no shame (chapters 6/8). Sadly, that’s the day in which we live. Adam and Eve had shame when they sinned. We only declare sinfulness, for example, pride celebrations. Even though that is the case, there will come a day when it will be shamed. The truth will win. Eventually, they will fail. When the light of Christ will shine on the world, it will show the world’s ugliness.
  2. Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth.” This is in contrast to those whose names have been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. There is condemnation for those who forsake the Lord (Revelation 20:15). ‘Your name will be written in the earth’ means you’re earthbound. The Lord offers gospel calls for people. If they continually reject Him, the Lord will harden their hearts. They will be eternally condemned to destruction.
  • The start of Jeremiah’s prayer: a plea for healing and salvation.

“Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
Save me, and I shall be saved,
For You are my praise.”

Jeremiah 17:14

Here is the grace of God. What a confidence to say that. But remember the phrase at the end, “For you are my praise.” Is Christ / God the thing that you want most? It’s worth pausing and thinking about. People who put Christ first, ‘Behold His glory.’ (John). Paul writes, ‘God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 6:14). See also Colossians 2:3 and Song of Songs 5:10.

What is your praise? If you have the confidence to say Christ is everything, then you can say, “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved.” To heal is to mend or to stitch together. We can pray for healing, but it’s not just the healing of the body, it’s also healing of the mind. Jeremiah was the weeping prophet. He says, ‘Heal me Lord and I shall be healed.’

The work of Christ on the cross was completed and finished. Nothing needs to be supplement that. He paid the price for sin. If you trust Him, all of your sins have been cast out. The Bible speaks of new birth and being regenerated. When you accept Christ, you will be born again. At that moment when you say yes, that’s the moment when you accept Him and receive Him, you will be born again in the Spirit. Then, you need your life to be set on this course.

Along with new life comes hope and patience (2 Peter 1). Eventually, one day you will see Him in heaven. Salvation has this three-fold aspect:

Christ saved us 2,000 years ago. Fully.

You were saved at that moment when you came to the point in your heart of accepting Him.

You will be saved when He comes again or you are taken into glory.

Hebrews 10:14 is a depiction of what happens in salvation, “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” God has done it! You can say, ‘Save me and I will be saved.’ I encourage you to keep on and trust Him.

May 30th 2022: Ian Middlemist

Ephesians 2:11-22

The purpose of the Church.

You can look at taller buildings using an electric drone. Gou can see on screen what the drone is looking at, see how it is looking up there. How is the church looking from up there today? How is it looking from God’s perspective? How is our heavenly Father looking at us today? What do you think of when you think of the church? You can go on a computer and zoom in on Google Earth, zoom into London, into Canary Wharf, into the Bishops Gate area and see enormous, magnificent office blocks made out of glass. Bishops Gate was largely obliterated in the Blitz. There’s a large church – St. Helens. When you see it from the office blocks it looks tiny. Some of those office workers, on their breaks, high up, can look at the little church down there and wonder why it’s there. Worshippers can look up today and ask how they fit in. I encourage you today to raise your vision to God’s perspective. Hi is the one who has created the church for His own glory.

The church is a heavenly assembly.
The church is an earthly assembly.
The church is for the glory of God.

The church is a heavenly assembly.
The New Testament translation of church is ‘ecclesia.’ It actually means an assembly. We’re assembling today. Assemblies in schools haven’t happened for the past two years because of Covid. Schools can now come together, one school, one message. The New Testament has two kinds of assemblies, one is in heaven and one is on earth.

The universal church gathers in heaven, the local church gathers on earth. The Church is fundamentally a gathering. This must be first in our thinking. The local Church is equally important, but the invisible, universal church must come first.

When you become a Christian you become part of the universal church. You didn’t join the church. Scripture invites us to see things from His perspective. Jesus Christ has joined not just individuals to Himself, but a people, all invited to Him. When Adam and Eve sinned, the immediate effect was division occurred. Their relationship and communion with God was broken. They became afraid of Him, uncomfortable before Him. They hid, hoping to disappear from the face of the planet. The relationship suffered. God seeks out that unity between human beings. Because of this rebellion there was no harmony. But God came through His Son, to have a people He will cleanse and purify. Today, He is calling a people out of this world, out of dominion of Satan and death, to be His people in oneness.

He has raised us up with Him, “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” (Ephesians 2:6). Upon saving us, He has given us a place in God’s heavenly throne room.

“12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (Ephesians 2:12-16).

What are the two groups? The Jewish and the Gentile groups. God is uniting these two groups through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. United together, one in the glory of heaven. If you’re sitting with Christ in heavenly places, you are also seated with the heavenly assembly.

The earthly assembly.
This is the local church. God’s purpose is that His heavenly church, one in the Spirit of God, show up on earth through the existence of local churches. God has declared us righteous in heaven, seated with the saints. It’s real, in the here and now. He has declared us righteous for the here and now. Earth, this globe, this time – May 2022, matters to God. We are not merely to be thinkers of how we live out our lives, we’re doers and need to get on with it. Our God acts in this world. Look at Jesus Christ Himself – how God demonstrated His love, not merely by making declarations of His love. But Jesus became a man, entered into this world, came in flesh.

As soon as a Christian becomes a member of the heavenly assembly, they want to become part of the earthly assembly. They want to become part of the local church. They want to be with other Christians, wanting to be in a local church. We put on the heavenly, we get involved. We’re putting on the new self, working it out with other Christians. The glory that is done to the Lord will be revealed to the world through His church. Membership in the universal church must become visible in the local church. Committed Christians, committed to one another. The ideas of a Christian who doesn’t want to become part of the church is impossible.

The purpose of the Church.
Some will emphasise that the church is heavenly; what matters is we’re walking with Jesus, trying to do our best. Others will say that the church needs to be active. The Protestant Reformation say it was possible for someone to be part of the visible, local church without being part of the church of Jesus Christ. These days, we seem to emphasise the local church.

We’re united with all churches, one with other churches. The church is universal. The Almighty God has created the church. He has brought it into existence. What is the purpose of the church? We’re here today for the glory of God. So easily we can be caught up with the concerns of the day – evangelism, bank accounts, so much so we forget we’re here for the glory of God. We’re here today to glorify Him and Him only.

The church is not ultimately for seekers. It doesn’t exist for those enquiring about the gospel. Jesus did pay attention to the needs of crowds and unbelievers. He teaches them (John 6). There’s a danger we become more and more like the world if we exist to be attractive to the world.

The church doesn’t exist to be more attractive for the disciple either. It doesn’t exist for the Christians. The church doesn’t exist for you. We’re not to go around taking surveys for our needs. We’re not to ignore people’s needs but our goal and purpose is for the glory of God.

Our God has come down to us and reached us, lifted us up to the heavenly places. All of our needs are found in Him. We’re here for Him. The church exists in the people of God. Lour primary occupation is the glory of God.

What a wonderful thing it is to be part of the church. It’s our joy to discover that. It’s wonderful to be built on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ. We have a church that is firm and secure. None can destroy His church. Praise His Name.