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God, the Church and the Internet

  • Can God interact on the internet?
  • Who?
  • What?
  • Why?
  • How!
  • John 17:13-19
  • Romans 12:3-8


Preached at Poulner Baptist Chapel, 1st February 2015...

Symptomatic of human history has been the development of different technologies. Each generation seems to have had a great leap forward in some way! Think of the wheel, the printing press, the wireless, the combustion engine and the silicon chip! One of the developments that I am sure that you have noticed is the internet. Everything is on the internet now it seems – increasingly so at a government & banking level! Everybody here has used it – either directly or indirectly. The internet is here. It isn’t going to go away and it will continue to develop and expand.

Likewise, the church is here too. It also isn’t going to go away (at least at a universal level) and it also will develop and expand. So let’s tonight look at what this internet is, why the Church should be using it and lastly how the church can use it for the glory of God. By using it, I do mean more than just a website with the latest information, events and sermons on it!

Before we continue, however, I must warn you, that alas, I have to talk about what I do – much as I don’t like to talk about myself! That is probably the best place to start as we can then quickly move on! In the last 7 years I have had about 4 million individual folk from around the world visit my website to read. There have been close to a million listeners of the audio and video. During 2014 I probably had communication with about a million people, either directly or indirectly. The world is my parish. If I can do it, anybody can! And those numbers are small compared to some folk!

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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 18: John 4:48
Signs and wonders


In this, verse 48, “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” He was not speaking exclusively to the royal official and worried father for the ‘you’ is plural. At first the words sound like a rebuke, but Jesus went on to heal the boy that was so ill so his intent was more subtle than that. These words are used quite often by big meeting preachers to justify their claimed miracles and command people to believe. But that is not the intention of these words either and a sometimes very dangerous use of them.

It is much safer and wiser to take these words of Jesus as a comment on what happens, neither particularly encouraging or discouraging those who would rely on signs and wonders. It is important to note that exactly the same phrase is used in the Bible as a pointer to deceptive practices to be avoided (Matt 24: 24; 2 Thess 2: 9). But, positively, this episode is described as a sign in verse 54, the second one performed in Cana of Galilee. Jesus heals the boy. The NIV translates the crucial sentence as “your son will live” when it should more literally be “your son lives”. The action of Jesus is strong positive and instantaneous. So is that of the man. We are clearly meant to understand that he came to a strong, positive and totally valid faith as a direct result of this particular ‘sign and wonder’.

What should we make of this somewhat ambiguous situation? Surely this is actually the danger in signs and wonders – they focus attention on what Jesus can do for us, rather than on who he is. The royal official had a considerable advantage over us: he had met Jesus and could assess who he was. He knew both what Jesus could do and who he must be.

Who was, and is, Jesus? The Son of God; the Saviour of the world; the Lord of Glory; the Judge of the ages. Is that enough to be going on with? Of course we need to become convinced of these things which are not automatically obvious. And that is where the Resurrection comes in. Peter said, (Acts 2: 32, 36)“God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. … Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” Paul’s comment on that was (1 Cor 15: 20), “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,”

We are but human. We are quite capable of believing something today and its opposite tomorrow! Make sure your faith is grounded not on your subjective experience of the things that have happened to you or other people but on the objective facts of the word of God. The former may have brought you to faith as it did the royal official but work hard to transfer your true grounding to the latter, to his written word, the Bible and its sure testimony to the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Resurrection of Jesus that is the one and only sure, unmovable foundation for your faith and for mine. All other possible logical bases for our faith are secondary and derivative.

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

29th January 2016

We pray together and when Christians pray together, including across the internet and from different times, different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity!

Grant, Almighty God,
that since under the guidance of thy Son
we have been united together in the body of thy Church,
which has been so often scattered and torn asunder, —
O grant, that we may continue in the unity of faith,
and perseveringly fight against all the temptations of this world,
and never deviate from the right course,
whatever new troubles may daily arise:
and though we are exposed to many deaths,
let us not yet be seized with fear,
such as may extinguish in our hearts every hope;
but may we, on the contrary,
learn to raise up our eyes and minds,
and all our thoughts,
to thy great power,
by which thou quickens the dead,
and raises from nothing things which are not,
so that though we may be daily exposed to ruin,
our souls may ever aspire to eternal salvation,
until thou at length really slowest thyself to be the fountain of life,
when we shall enjoy that endless felicity,
which has been obtained for us by the blood of thy only-begotten Son our Lord. Amen.

Amen.

(A prayer of John Calvin)

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