March 19th 2021: Adrian Brake

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Genesis 6

If someone asked you, who was Noah? What would you say? He lived long ago, he was married, had 3 sons and was a ship builder. But I want to look at the most important thing about Noah, But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8). That, in a sense, is Noah in a nutshell.

That’s the first time, in Genesis 6:8, that the word grace appears in the pages of scriptures. Grace is at the very heart of the message of the Bible. Grace is woven into the very fabric of scripture. The Bible is from the beginning to the end, the story of God’s grace towards human beings. The Bible is a story; one, unified, developing, growing story of God’s grace through Jesus Christ to human beings. If you’re a Christian, if you don’t get excited about grace, you need a renewing of your heart. Every hymn is a celebration of God’s grace. Every hymn is a response for us to God’s grace. Grace is the beating heart of the church’s hymnary.

What is grace?

First of all, grace is not an object. It’s an attitude. We don’t receive grace, we are shown grace. It describes the way somebody thinks about us, the way somebody relates to us and the way that somebody acts towards us. To receive grace from God means to receive something we don’t deserve, something we have no right expect. It is something we have no claim upon.  Grace is unmerited kindness, something which hasn’t been bought, something which hasn’t been worked for but has been gladly, freely, lavishly shown. That is how God dealt with Noah.

God gave Noah something he didn’t deserve, something he wasn’t entitled to, something that if God has acted purely in justice, he would never have received. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8).

God was gracious to Noah. We forget that Noah, by nature, was no different to other people that lived. We almost think here the world was in a terrible mess, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” (Genesis 8:5) but that Noah was a shining light whom God rewarded for his inherent godliness. It’s not that at all. Noah, by nature, deserved to perish with everyone in the flood, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). There’s no exception clause for Abraham, Moses, David and others. All those great men of the Bible were not great by nature. They were sinners by choice. Noah began life in the same boat as his contemporaries. He was under God’s condemnation.

How is it that Noah ended up on the ark? God was going to save Noah, 17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark – you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.”.  Genesis 6:17-18).

God marks Noah out. Why? What was there about Noah that led God to treat him in this remarkable way? Nothing! But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8). There was nothing about Noah that he could bring before God and say, ‘Lord, you can’t do that to me.’ Noah found grace. He didn’t deserve it, he wasn’t entitled to it. He hadn’t bought it, he couldn’t claim it, he hadn’t worked for it, he was simply shown it.

God shows Noah grace. Why? Because He chose to. Because God, in His heart, provided a way of escape from His judgement, a way of rescue. Noah didn’t deserve it but God choose to be gracious and merciful, generous and kind to him. It’s a wonderful act of a large heart that God has.

“Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9b). Perfect means blameless, he wasn’t guilty of great public sin. He was perfect in his generation and walked with God. Hang on! Noah was a godly man, so he did deserve a place on the ark. No. He didn’t begin like that. Noah found grace – that’s the foundation (verse 8). But in verse 9 we have the fruit of grace, “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9b). Noah was what he was in verse 9 because God had first shown him grace.

God’s grace to Noah is seen in two things:

  1. Before the flood waters were ever mentioned, God was gracious to Noah and gave Noah a new heart. There became a point in Noah’s life when he became a different man. When other people were hating God, he began to love God. Once Noah had shown no interest in relating to God, now he wanted to walk with God. He reaches out to God. He looks to Him. He longs for Him. He listens and speaks to Him. He fellowships with Him. Why is he so different? “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8).

  2. God gave Noah what he didn’t deserve in the form of safety from judgement. Noah’s story was a story of receiving that to which he had no claim: a new nature and a Saviour.

We are dealing with historical facts here but what happened in those days was a warning, a warning given by God to the whole of the human race. What happened in Noah’s day was a foretaste, a glimpse of a day yet to come. The flood was an expression of God’s wrath against sin and against sinners. We see the consequences of sin, Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5). The destruction that comes on the Earth is a settled, judicial response to man’s sin. “And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:13). Because of sin, God is bringing this judgement, And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.” (Genesis 6:17). It was a deliberate, decisive, purposeful act of God – judgement upon Man’s sin.

God doesn’t always act in that cataclysmic way to deal with Man’s sin, but there are occasions in scripture where He does that. Sodom and Gomorrah is an example of a dramatic way in which God pours out His wrath upon sin. Sometimes, God needs to make an example of somebody, or a generation, as a warning for others.

On occasion, God, in His grace to us, shows us what sin will bring about if it is not dealt with, not repented of. The flood was God speaking to us today saying sin is serious, it’s not to be taken lightly. Sin grieves God, “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” (Genesis 6:6). God was wounded to see His creation so reject Him. It’s almost as if He wept over Man’s rebellion against Him. It brings down God’s wrath. Paul tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

In grace, God issues warnings. The warning is that what happened in those days is a glimpse of the Day ahead, the Day of the Lord. This is the day when God’s wrath will be poured out. As sinners, we store up judgement for the day of God’s wrath. God acted in Noah’s day there and then to deal with their sins.

Generally, God holds off, He waits. He has already appointed a particular day in history, which hasn’t come yet, when He will call all men and women to account. We will have to appear before Him to answer for our rejection of Him. That day is coming. The judgement poured out on that day will make the flood waters seem like a bath, when we will be cut off from the presence of God forever. We will experience throughout eternity no trace of God’s mercy, no trace of God’s grace, no trace of God’s kindness, only his righteous wrath upon us.

That day is coming. God has appointed that day. He has appointed the judge. We are moving closer and closer to it. Through a chapter like this God, in His grace, comes to us today, comes to Roch today through you bringing the message out, saying the day is coming, flee from it.

If you are a Christian, like Noah, it’s a reminder that on that day when Christ returns, when judgement comes, you will have nothing to fear. Nothing. The flood would have been an horrific experience for the people, but Noah wouldn’t have been perturbed at all because God had already, in grace, provided a way of safety for him. The day of the Lord will be a terrifying day for those who have rejected the gracious offer of God in Jesus Christ. But the astonishing thing is that although it will be terrifying, for Christians it will not be terrifying at all. It will be a day of joy and celebration. It will be a day when we will go to be with Christ.

How will it be a very different day for you than for others? Will you not be judged because you don’t deserve to be judged because you decided to turn over a new leaf? No. You will have nothing to fear for one reason, and one reason only, because you will have found grace in the eyes of the Lord. You don’t deserve that, you have no claim to it, but that will be you experience. Because just like with Noah, God graciously provided you with a way of escape in Jesus Christ, and God graciously, by His Spirit, provided you with a new nature.

Your story here today is that you are somebody who has found grace in the eyes of the Lord. People might ask, ‘Who are you? Tell me something about yourself.’ We think about where we were born, what we do for a job, what family we have, where we live and our hobbies. But friends, surely our first response should be, ‘I am somebody who has found grace in the eyes of the Lord.’ That is our story. That is who we are. Our epitaph includes our name, but it would be wonderful to have engraved, “He/She found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” What do you want people to know about you? What is your legacy? What is your testimony? It is that you found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

This is our story, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Sometimes, people tell us we need to forget the past, but sometimes, as believers, it is good to remember the past. It is good to remember where we came from, how we began. Then we marvel at where we are and who has brought us there. Paul says,”Let me remind you of how you once were, “in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:2). You began dead to righteousness. You were under the power of Satan, a child of disobedience. In verse 3 the great apostle Paul says he was like that. By nature, we are no different to everyone else in this world. On that last day you won’t be safe because of anything you’ve done. Christians here in Roch this morning, by nature you are no different to anyone else in this world. On that last day you will not be saved because of anything you have done.

In verse 4 Paul says, ‘But.’ Something has happened, “But God.” We are immediately taken away from ourselves. Paul begins by saying this is where you were, but something happened. God! “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (Ephesians 2-5). ‘But’ says Paul. God, who is rich in mercy and love made us alive. He raised us from the dead. By grace you have been saved. You didn’t do anything. God, in His rich mercy and great love did something. He made us alive. He raised us from the dead.

In the ages to come God is going to showcase the exceeding riches of His grace. How? “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:7-8). How is God going to show the exceeding riches of His grace? In His kindness toward us kin Christ Jesus.

If you want to know how gracious God is, look at His church. Look at how He’s dealt with sinners. Look at the transformation He’s brought about in the life of sinners. Look at what divine grace can produce. We are trophies of grace. It is all from Him. He has lavished something on us which we don’t deserve: a new nature, a Saviour, a new life, eternity. It is all from Him. Everything you have is a gracious gift from God.

Paul reminds Titus to tell the people he is pastoring now, “To be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. Paul is basically saying, ‘Don’t go round condemning people, tutting and shaking your head.’ We do that as Christians. We see the government passing a new legislation, a new law, and we see the sin there is repulsive. But let’s not go condemning people about how awful they are. Paul reminds us, “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3)

Paul says, ‘Here we are, the church of God, this is what we like to begin with. But there’s been a change. What have we done? Nothing.“ But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 34-7). Look at what we were. Look at what we are. What produces this astonishing change? The kindness, the grace, the love, the mercy of God toward us.

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” (Titus 3:11-14).

There, but for the grace of God, go I. It is only the grace of God that put you in the community of the redeemed today. If you have a love for the Bible, God gave it to you. If you have a love for God, God gave it to you. If you have a hatred for sin, God gave it to you. It’s all of Him.

God is most wonderfully gracious. We read of an abundant God, a lavish God, an exceedingly rich God. God, in His grace today, warns you if you do not know Him, of the day of judgement that is coming. He urges you, He pleads with you to come to Him, to climb on the ark that He has provided – the ark that is His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are a believer here today, let us never forget what we have been shown. Let us never find grace to be something common. Something incredible has happened to us. God lavished upon us the riches of His kindness. That’s our story. Don’t you want to go out and tell somebody that you have found grace in the sight of the Lord? To tell them, ‘Let me tell you what I was, let me tell you what I am. Let me tell you what I would be if it wasn’t for the grace of God.’

That’s your message to Roch. We are a people who have found grace in the eyes of the Lord. We are different. We are what we are because of God’s grace. We want you to experience that and enjoy it too.

We want to celebrate, we want to praise God, but remember, as Paul says, Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.“ (Romans 12:1b) Everything you have, devote it to the service, worship and praise of God. Lay it all on the altar before God. Serve Him. But Paul doesn’t begin there. Before that he says, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,” (Romans 12:1a). In other words, Paul says first of all, before I give you any command or instruction, I encourage you to think on the mercies of God. Think of what God has done for you. Think of how God has dealt with you. Think on your salvation. This will let you offer your body as a living sacrifice, as you serve Him.

February 6th 2022: Steffan Jones

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Romans 5: 1-11

When I was in Bible college, I was taught that every good preacher does three things: they state their point, then they illustrate it, then they apply it – why is this important to us, how does it apply to lives. So, you state the point, illustrate it and apply it. It seems that the apostle Paul followed this plan.  When you read Romans, Paul issues the main theological point of his letter in chapter 3:24, “we are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” The main point of this letter is we are justified by His grace. Justified means to be declared not guilty. So, whereas before you stand condemned in the dock, facing condemnation and judgement because of your thoughts, your speech, your behaviour, and attitude to God, now you are declared not guilty. There is no condemnation, you are free. Justified means to stand in a court of law and for the judge to say, ‘Not guilty.’ We are justified freely through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. It’s a gift of God’s grace.

In chapter 4 Paul illustrates this, giving an example of someone who was justified by faith – someone who was not justified on the basis of keeping the law, that they had lived a good enough life, or that they were circumcised. His example is Abraham. Abraham was someone who was justified, who was declared not guilty, who was considered righteous, perfect in the eyes of God, before the Jewish law had been given, before the ceremonial law had been given. He was justified because God, in His grace, put His hands on him, chose him, called him and considered him righteous. The only thing Abraham had to do was accept that and to believe and trust Him in the word of this gracious and loving God.

I think Paul goes to Abraham because he’s the father of faith. He is the great example of someone who could not be saved through his own efforts or through keeping the law. It would have been impossible for him to keep the Jewish law because it hadn’t been presented or delivered to them. So, it is illustrated. Here is a real-life example of someone justified, someone declared not guilty, someone who is freed and forgiven – not because he is a great person, or that he was immensely religious. No. it is because of the grace of God. God, in His amazing love, calling and choosing. All he had to do was respond in faith.

In chapter 5 we see the application. How does it affect our lives? The headline is in chapter 5. The main line, the most important point is found in verse 1, Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Everyone wants peace – peace within warring families, peace when there is division between a husband and wife, peace between nations. We pray for peace in broken communities, when there is division between various groups. People want peace in their hearts. They can’t find peace within them for many reasons: Covid, fear, loneliness.

The peace in this passage of scripture speaks of a deeper peace. I believe if you have this peace, then you have the key to unlocking other types of peace. If you have peace with God, then you can be at peace with yourself. You can know peace in your heart and soul. If you have peace with God, then you can learn how to forgive others and that can lead to peace within our own relationships. I believe if there is revival, then an entire nation is affected. If thousands of people within a community are saved, then that leads to change communities as well and to greater peace. This is the underlying need for every person because it changes our lives today. Even more than that, for all eternity. To have peace with God is our deepest and greatest need.

What are the results of having peace with God? That’s what Paul looks at in the next few verses. So, we have got justification – we are declared not guilty, free ion the eyes of God. Perfect and righteous. You have peace with God. What does that mean? What are the consequences? The first thing is mentioned in verse 2 – we now have grace.

Grace. “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2) We now have grace in which we stand. Because we have peace with God, we have this grace in which we stand. We think of grace at the beginning of the Christian life, that you become a Christian because of the grace of God. Someone becomes a Christian not because they are especially clever or especially religious. You become a Christian because God, in His grace, places His hands on you and calls you.

But grace is a state, a spiritual condition, in which we continue, so we continue to receive the grace of God not just on the day we become a Christian, but throughout our whole lives. There are two spiritual states: one state is to be under judgement, still in our sin. Without Jesus this is where we are. Without Jesus, God sees our sin and there is no forgiveness because we haven’t repented, we haven’t trusted in the Saviour. That is a dangerous place to be. If we were to die in our sins, without the Lord Jesus, we would face judgement.

But the other condition is to stand in grace, where we are recipients of God’s grace. If you have trusted in Jesus as your Saviour, if you have asked for forgiveness of your sins, if you have received by faith this salvation, by faith you have trusted in Jesus, you have peace with God, you can now receive the grace of God. This means to know that God wants to bless you, to know that God wants to protect you, that God loves you.

Think of all the promises God, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)

That is what it means to stand in grace. That this heavenly Father, who feeds the creatures and the natural world around us, values you. You receive the grace of God and so you are aware of your sinfulness. God reminds you of His grace. You feel helpless and God, in His love, reminds you of the hope you have. You are aware of your sinfulness but reminded that Jesus died for me. All of the truths come back again and again, in His grace. God, in His grace, protects us and restores us again and again. Even when we do fall and when we find ourselves in foolish situations, He forgives – because He is a God of grace. So, you are a recipient of God’s love continually.

Don’t ever think you’re outside of God’s love, or beyond God’s love. Don’t ever think that God cannot show you grace. His grace is beyond anything we can ask for or imagine. His love overflows for us. For all eternity you will stand, and your faith will not fail because God in His grace will keep you. You will stand in grace, and you will continue to stand.

Hope. We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. There are no obstacles now. Because we are justified, because we have peace with God, because our sin has been taken away, there are no obstacles between us and God, between us and heaven. On that day of judgement, where the sheep and goats will be divided and separated, because we have peace with God, we can know that on that day we will be received into the presence of the Lord Jesus, into His everlasting, eternal kingdom. We will be with His forever in paradise. We have this eternal hope that we are safe. We will stand in a place where there will be no diseases, no death, no decay. There will be no sorrow, no sadness, no sin. All of those things will have passed away.

We will rejoice in this. Because there is no sin, there is no judgement, we will be immediately ushered into this new heaven. A paradise. But notice what Paul says here; he doesn’t just say we rejoice in the hope of glory, at the thought of going to heaven, to paradise. There is more. We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. He knows heaven is the home of God. In heaven we will have glorified bodies. We will have glorified eyes to see Jesus as He really is. Can you imagine that? The fullness of the glory of God, seen in the person of Jesus. We will see the glory of Jesus. Because we have been justified, because we have peace with God, this is a real hope. We rejoice in hope.

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,” (Romans 5:3-4). Paul acknowledges there will be suffering, but we can still rejoice because God has greater purposes for us, and we can fix our eyes on heaven. We can know that whatever we face in this world, all suffering will come to an end. One day we will see Jesus, the person you pray to, the person to delight in when reading the Scriptures.

The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, pours out God’s love into our hearts.  “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5). We’ve thought about the doctrine of justification (being set free, not guilty), we’ve thought about heaven, we’ve thought about God’s grace. God wants us to understand these things in our minds. He wants us to know these things are true. He also wants us to feel it, to know this in our hearts as well. The Christian faith is meant to affect not just our minds, not just our wills, but it’s to affect our emotions. He wants us to feel His love and He does this through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, the Holy Spirit is our instructor and guide, the Holy Spirit is the one who convicts us of our sinfulness. He moulds our consciences. The Holy Spirit pours out His love so that we know we are children of God, so that we know we are forgiven.

It is one thing to know this, it is something completely different to understand. I’m becoming more convinced that what we need to remember as people is that God loves us. We have peace with God. There are no obstacles. The Holy Spirit can live and dwell in our hearts and soul and pour out this love. Do you know today that you are loved? Do you know today that God is your Father? Are you aware that the Holy Spirit is in your soul?

When you feel that sense of darkness, or that isolation, pray for the love of God to be poured out like streams of living water into your souls.

Deliverance. “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” (Romans 5:9). There is a time coming when we will all have to face the wrath of God – but because of the death of the Lord Jesus we will be safe and delivered. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8).

Because of Jesus’ grace, because of His willingness to go to the cross, because of His obedience to God and His love for Him, He went to the cross. And so, on that day of wrath there will be nothing that we have to face; God will say ‘You are forgiven. You are considered a great and faithful servant.’ And we’ll be about to enter the presence of God.

Some Christians are still worried about that day, thinking ‘Will I be accepted?’ If you trust in the Lord Jesus, you don’t have to say, ‘I hope for the best.’ No. You can say, ‘I know I will be safe. I know that I will go to heaven. I know that I will see the glorious face of Jesus. I know that I won’t face wrath because of Jesus, because He died for me.’

All of these are blessing of being a Christian. To summarize it all – we have been reconciled with God. We are one with God. These are tremendous blessings! At the beginning of 2022, a return to normality would have been good news, to see this Omicron wave pass quickly, that we can return to spending time with loved ones and friends, to go on holidays.

But the greatest news of all is to know that if you trust in Jesus, if you have believed in Him, then you have peace with Him. God is your Father. God is on your side. You are one with Him. You belong to the family of God. That’s how you stand in grace. You are in a safe position, this secure position of someone who can receive the grace of God continually. He will restore you. He will keep you. You have a hope that one day you will be in heaven and see the glory of God in the face of Jesus forever and ever.

You can know the Holy Spirit who pours out the love of God into your heart, so that in the deepest and darkest of times you can know that God loves you. You are delivered from wrath and given life eternal. There is no greater news. There is nothing greater this morning that I could share with you, than to remind you of His profound truths. So, my prayer for you, myself and all of God’s people, and those who don’t know Him yet, that you would find this news and would rejoice in it today and forever.

September 1st 2019: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards Sept 2019Luke 7:36-50, Exodus 20:14

An addition to the Authorised Version of the Bible in 1631 earned the printer a significant fine of £350 imposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Its problem – it omitted one word out of that particular print, the word ‘not’ from the seventh Commandment. It read, ‘You shall commit adultery.’ For that, the version of the Bible became known as the ‘wicked Bible.’ In our study of the seventh Commandment we are certainly not going to leave out ‘not!’ Today, of course, such an oversight might be rewarded. A university lecturer asked a class if they could downsize the Ten Commandments, which would they leave out. The majority said the seventh commandment.

We live in an age there where marriage is under constant attack; people are living together, having affairs, making it seem justifiable. People regard the seventh Commandment as outdated. A positive assertion of marriage is needed all the more today because it is so widely disregarded. God’s way is the right way, God’s way is the best way.

  1. The attack upon marriage and the promotion of promiscuous behaviour.

We are told that adultery and other forms of sexual immorality are natural, normal and necessary. The Bible states from the beginning God intended all sexual activity to be between one man and one woman within the context of marriage (Genesis 2:24).

Man was not created to be like the animals but to enjoy a single, committed relationship for life. The very word adultery means a violation of marriage by breaking commitment (Leviticus 20:10). Although God often showed mercy to such sinners, the severity of punishment reveals the severity of the crime.

Following on from the lie that adultery is natural, there is the additional lie that adultery is normal. Television, newspapers and magazines are constantly filled with adultery. But adultery is abnormal to God’s purpose. He reserves His strongest words for it (Jeremiah 5:7-9). The consequences of adultery and promiscuity are far reaching: the devastation of partners, the great emotional cost for children, the cost to state in terms of the price of divorce in our land. The Lord reserves the most serious warnings for any who believe such behaviour is normal.

The ultimate excuse for adultery is the spouse no longer loves his or her spouse and finds greater happiness in the arms of another. This is based on the mistaken belief that love is just an emotion that comes and goes. It goes against Biblical teaching in which one gives oneself exclusively to one other, irrespective of the ebb and flow of feelings. Real love is not self-seeking, it is self-sacrificing (Ephesians 5:25). Many times those who have seen adulterers’ promiscuity as the road to happiness have found it as the road to ruin.

The sanctity of marriage and rejection of sexual acts outside marriage is normal, natural and necessary. Satan seeks to destroy and damage the God-ordained order for family and individuals. The Lord Jesus Christ cites adultery as the grounds for gaining divorce (Mark 10). It is sad that Christians fall for the lie. It is best seen in ministers who have committed adultery but are allowed back into the pulpit. Sin, of course, is forgiven and the minister should be received back into the fellowship of the church. But by his infidelity to his wife, they have barred themselves from preaching. 

  1. The deceitfulness of adultery.

For many this Commandment has no fear because we can honestly say we have never committed adultery, we have been faithful to our husband or wife. However, that is to ignore the seed of adultery that is found in our hearts. All of us, in some way, have been guilty of weakening our marriages. The scriptures point us to the way sexual activity prior to marriage breaches the seventh Commandment. The abuse of the gift of our sexuality before marriage deprives a future wife or husband (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 18). Today many people believe that having many partners is not wrong, provided they are one at a time. There are many problems that conflict marriages because of sexual activity outside, prior to marriage.

People can engage in marital unfaithfulness. They may enjoy sexual fantasy in viewing inappropriate material, flirting with the opposite sex. This weakens marriage too, even if there is no acting on the thought. The scriptures call us to be pure in thought and action. We are to guard our minds from all immorality (Philippians 4:8). God knows what we feed our minds on.

There is the problem of inappropriate thoughts. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” (Matthew 5:28). Accordingly, there is no-one here this morning who is not guilty of breaking the seventh Commandment. When we condemn the actions of others which we find obscene and sickens us, remember we too have been guilty of obscenity which sickens Him. We too need forgiveness. There is help at hand in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The grace of God for adulterers is best seen in three women who broke the seventh Commandment:

           The woman of Samaria (John 4:1-26)
         The woman, believed to be Mary Magdalene, who scandalised the Pharisees                      (Luke 7),
          The woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11).

            What do we see in each case?

  • Whereas others were keen to condemn these women, Jesus did not. On the contrary, He deals with them as if they were respectable.
  • He forgives their sin, bringing them freedom from the penalty of sin.
  • He changed their lives, transforming them into disciples who loved righteousness. He establishes a new relationship in their lives with God and God’s law.
  • The Saviour remained faithful to them, even going to die on the cross to pay the price of their sin.

There is no doubt they continued to fail Him, even as we do, but He never forsook them, even as He never forsakes us.

The good news, the gospel news, then is there is forgiveness for adulterers and those with promiscuous behaviour, to those who repent. Forgiveness is available to all who turn to Christ. But it also involves sinning no more. In God’s power they must flee from the sin of the past and not repeat it. You can’t continue in the old ways. People who do are not truly born again.

  1. Marriage is used in the Bible as a picture of the relationship between God and His people. That’s a sobering challenge to those of us who are married. Are our marriages a picture of the relationship between God and His people? Do we reflect the union of Christ and the Church? We may not commit physical adultery but there may be nastiness, attitudes that don’t speak of a commitment of love.

Even amongst Christians there are those who defile their marriage with pornography, who seek to use their partner in the porn of their own sordid experience of sinful immorality. Praise be to God, not only in their forgiveness, not only in their restoration, there is also the complete, never-ending commitment of the Lord Jesus Christ to each and every one of us that can never be broken. He will never forsake us, He will never abuse us. He will never cease to love us. He will also be to us our heavenly spouse who has sacrificed Himself for our eternal good.

The seventh Commandment does have a ‘not’ in it, it’s not left out. It is there for the glory of God, the good of His people and the good of all mankind.

October 15th 2017: Ian Middlemist

Ian March 26th 2017I John 3 ‘Blessed Assurance.’

Assurance of love is essential. Our Heavenly Father needs to discipline us for our good that we might share in His holiness and be assured of His great love for us. ‘See what kind of love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is it did not know him.’ (I John 3:1). God wants His children to feel His arms of love around them.

I john 3-1

– An important question to ask: Am I a Christian?
– Vital love
– A central perspective.

An important question to ask: Am I a Christian?

The enemy of our souls tries to drive a wedge between us and God. The devil’s work and our conscience can condemn us as we compare ourselves with to others and to the Word. It is right we compare ourselves to God’s standards. It is right we love others but this can be hard. We may have difficulty praying for others.

For many the question ‘Am I a Christian?’ may seem ridiculous. They may answer, ‘Of course!’ It’s a vital question to ask. Be careful how we ask and answer it. We also need to meet it head on.

The creator God is here, we proclaim, as a church. There is one true God, all powerful, who created everything and is intimately involved. Why is it then that there is so much suffering? Why do so many people feel disconnected from God – not basking in the wonder of who He is? Why do we not always feel Christian? Perhaps we should ask ourselves what is a Christian? A Christian is a child of God. It is not someone who is generally good or goes to church. A Christian is a child of God, therefore it is someone who can call upon Him as ‘My Father.’

From the New Testament we know that a Christian is someone who is in Christ, someone who has entered into a wonderful, mysterious union into Jesus, clothed with Christ. We are intimately united with Christ. Faith has brought us into Christ.

People can be:

  • Unsaved and know they are not in Christ and are not bothered about this. They will be in Hell.
  • Be saved but not know they are saved. May be they don’t experience it all the time.
  • Be saved and know they are children of God. This is blessed assurance.
  • Not be saved but they seem to believe they are. This is false assurance. We do not want people to think they are going to heaven when they are trusting in themselves rather than Jesus.

In response to the question, ‘Am I a Christian?’ if I am I know I have the love of God in me, I am a child of God. To help you and encourage you there is to be a love in the heart of the believer. ‘By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him.’ I John 3: 19). 

I John 3-18

‘By this’ refers to the previous verse, ‘Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.’ (I John 3:18). There is to be this love in a Christian. It is defined in terms of direction:

  • It is not love towards cars, jobs, wives, husbands or me. Here is the grace of God displayed – it is love directed towards Jesus Christ, a love towards the person of Jesus. God sent His Son to live a righteous life on our behalf. When Christ willingly hung on the cross and suffered in agony He was thinking of you. Therefore, it’s Jesus we love because of what He did for us. Now we can put our trust in Him and now we can love Him. My love is not what it ought to be. The key thing Peter was assured of was that even when he failed, he could still say he loved Jesus. No matter how great our failings, we can still say we love Him.
  • There is a love for righteousness.
  • There is a love towards other Christians – not just certain Christians, a love for all of them. It’s testimony to God’s saving grace we can say we love the church.

Central Perspective: We must be convinced of God’s great goodness. ‘For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.’ (I John 3:20). We are assured of God’s great love towards us. It is not based on my love, my understanding or my feelings. Whenever our conscience condemns us, when the devil condemns, we turn to the greatness of God. Our hearts condemn us but God is greater. He knows all things. Don’t put your trust in yourself, trust in Him. Listen to what He says about you. He is always aware of us, where we are, what we feel, our thoughts. But He also knows we are His. He sent His only Son to die for you, to clothe you in righteousness. Be assured, God is greater than our hearts. Are you able to say, ‘Yes, I love Jesus?’ Be confident in Him.