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Sermon

A God of Wonder - Genesis 1:1-19 & John 1:1-14

We read Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”

This is that moment in time when God, who is outside of time and space, created the universe which is 90 billion light years across. Within this universe, He created galaxies, including our own, the Milky Way. Within the Milky Way, God created a Solar system which contains our Planet Earth. God created the planet Earth and placed it so that it would always be just the right distance away from the Sun in order to support life. Never too close and never too far away as the Earth orbits the Sun. Just right. Though I am sure there are some people here who think that in the past couple of weeks it has got a bit too close for comfort.

We see in this story from Genesis 1, that Almighty God created, hovered, separated, made, let be, gathered, called, saw, commanded, set, gave and blessed. He said let there be light, and there was! A great God of Wonder is He! Do you know this God?

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Correct thinking leads to correct action!

Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. The Church - 1 Timothy 1:4-11
  3. Timothy - 1 Timothy 1:18-20
  4. Paul - 1 Timothy 1:1-3 & 12-14
  5. God
  6. Conclusion - So what?

1 Timothy 1

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
2 To Timothy my true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Timothy Charged to Oppose False Teachers

3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

The Lord’s Grace to Paul

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

The Charge to Timothy Renewed

18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

 

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Developing A Strategy to Persevere (Hebrews10:26-39)

 

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Introduction

As Christians living in Britain in the beginnings of the 21st century, we are relatively removed from the original recipients of this letter. We know that the original readers were around probably before the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD. That this group of Hebrew Christians, due to the sufferings and persecution they were enduring, were thinking of abandoning their faith in Jesus as Messiah due to the suffering and persecution they were enduring. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world do suffer for the sake of Gospel and are systematically persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.

In 21st century Britain, we don't have those kind of physical sufferings and persecutions because of our faith - yet. But as I read history, and read of the persecution of the Church down through the ages, I can see signs of persecution coming even to us in this country. So, just as the writer speaks to this group of Hebrew Christians, so he speaks to you and I. I, of course, don't know your personal circumstances. I don't know where you are at in your Christian life. You may be persevering joyfully or you maybe struggling with some aspect of life and thinking of giving it all up. You may not even call yourself a Christian, as you are at the stage of investigating what all this Jesus talk is all about.

Wherever you are at, whatever stage you are at, there is something in this passage for you. I know that classically these passages are seen as warnings, but I also see them as active encouragements - in this case, to persevere. Persevere by being obedient. Persevere by remembering who you are and what you have done. Persevere by looking forward to being with Jesus Christ permanently and forever.

Part 1 - Just Stop! - Persevere in obedience (v26-31)

26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. 27 There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. 28 For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. 30 For we know the one who said,
“I will take revenge. I will pay them back.”
He also said,
“The Lord will judge his own people.”
31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Part 2 - Do Remember! - Persevere by remembering (v32-34)

32 Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ.[j] Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. 33 Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. 34 You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.

Part 3 - Hope Confidently - Persevere for reward (v35-39)

35 So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
37 “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.
38 And my righteous ones will live by faith.
But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”
39 But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

Conclusion - Perseverance of the Christian

You are to keep your eyes focused on Jesus Christ, and be willing to obey God. As a Christian, persevere in your relationship with God. Obey Him and follow Him. Ask questions humbly of Him and expect Him to answer, particularly if you don't understand something. Persevere in your prayers, your relationships with God and with other people. God will persevere with you, turning you gradually into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. God will not abandon you, but you are free to abandon Him. If you did abandon Him, He would still continue to call you back to Himself. Jesus Christ is to cover our entire life, permeating and being involved in every aspect.

By doing so, this is showing an acceptance of Him, and not a rejection of Him. For when we sin and disobey in anyway at all, it is some form of rejection of Jesus as Lord of our life. The more you sin, the less sensitive you become to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. So when you realise you have sinned, be quick to humbly ask for forgiveness. So I challenge you with this: if He who was without sin, became sin, for you, then you are to live a life worthy of Him and your status of freedom from sin in Jesus Christ. One day, Jesus is coming again. He will take your face in his hands and in the words of Revelation 21, will wipe the tears from your eyes, embrace you and you will be with Him forever! That's if you would call yourself a Christian.

But if you would not call yourself a Christian here today, there are all sorts of excuses you can make for not accepting Jesus. I hear them all the time. I just need a little bit more evidence. I just need a little bit more of this or a little bit more of that. An example to disprove these kind of excuses is that of Judas Iscariot. He lived with Jesus Christ, ate with Jesus Christ, travelled with Jesus Christ, yet gave it all up for a short-term gain of money. For him, there was never enough evidence, even though he had all those experiences with the earthly Jesus Christ. There is no other way, no other sacrifice you can make, to ensure that you are will be in the presence of Almighty God - except through Jesus Christ's sacrificial death on the cross. He will continue to call you and urge you to accept Him, until one day it will be too late, and your opportunities will have passed.

 

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Colossians 3v1-4

“Remember Who You Are!”

During last week, I attended the funeral of a friend, mentor and editor. This friend is now more alive than ever before! Why? That is explained here from Colossians 3:1-4. 

If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

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August 7, 2022

Church History Part 25

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Part 25

Reformation 2 - Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin and Persecution

Today we continue with the Protestant Reformation by looking briefly at two other giants of that time – the Swiss reformer, Ulrich Zwingli and the French Reformer, John Calvin.

Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)

Zwingli was a Swiss reformer independent of Luther who was greatly influenced strongly by the teachings of Erasmus. He was born during a period of time when Swiss national patriotism was emerging. After studying humanities before taking on the role of pastor in a church in Glarus and later in Einsiedeln.

It was in 1518 that Zwingli became pastor of Grossmunster in Zurich. Here he preached about reforming the Roman Catholic church. He was particularly critical of fasting during Lent, church hierarchy, clerical celibacy and the use of image in worship. In 1525, he produced a new liturgy to replace the Roman Catholic liturgy.

These ideas soon came to the attention of Martin Luther and other reformers. When they met, they did agree on many things but differed on several y matters. Zwingli taught that the Lord's Supper was purely symbolic and the elements of bread and wine did not change literally into the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ and nor did they at any point contain the real presence of Jesus Christ.

His reforms went from Switzerland to France, Scotland, Hungary, Holland, Germany, England, Puritans). Zwingli was killed in 1531 during an attack by his enemies within the Roman Catholic church on a food blockade supported by him.

Zwingli’s theology held the supremacy of the Bible, being the inspired word of God, over the teachings of humans such as the Church Councils and Church Fathers.

Concerning baptism, Zwingli differed from the Anabaptists who promote adult baptism only. Zwingli taught that the baptism of children was valid, describing that it was symbolic of God’s covenant with the Christian, much the same as it was when God made His covenant with Abraham.

He also promoted a non-Roman Catholic view of Church Government and Worship. Zwingli thought that the government was instituted by God and that they governed with divine approval. He taught that Christians were obliged to be obedient to their governments but to be disobedient only when the government acted in a manner to God’s will.

John Calvin

Our next giant is John Calvin! He was French and greatly influenced by Martin Luther. Trained as a lawyer, he broke away from the Roman Catholic church in 1530. During persecution by the Roman Catholic church on the reformation movement, Protestants, Calvin fled to Switzerland. There, in 1536, Calvin published the first edition of his now famous “Institutes of the Christian Religion.”

Calvin went onto introduce new forms of church government and worship liturgy despite opposition from secular authorities and people of power. In his final years, Calvin continued unabatedly to promote the Reformation of the church throughout Europe. During this time he also kept busy writing commentaries and regularly preached in churches. Prime to his thinking was Augustinian teaching, leading him to propose the doctrine of predestination and the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation and damnation.

Protestant persecution.

While the Reformation was only in its infancy, there was intense persecution of the Reformation Protestants by the Roman Catholic Church, particularly in Spain, France and the Netherlands. Thousands of Protestants died in battle and through persecution. It was during this time that the printing press was invented and was the catalyst for the rapid promotion and distribution of these new ideas of Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and others.

During this time also, we have noted that there was intense theological debate between the Reforming Protestants over such things as worship, predestination, the Lord's Supper and style of Church government. During this period, the Roman Catholic Church evangelised and rapidly gained new ground and more than made up for the losses to Protestantism. The Roman Catholic church did respond with a Counter Reformation. Commencing with the Council of Trent and the beginning of the Jesuits, these were designed to counter the Reformation movement. The majority of Northern Europe became Protestant, while Central Europe sank into deep conflict.

In the mid-1500's many Protestant Christians rejected both the Roman Catholic Church, and Lutheranism for not having gone far enough. They stressed personal discipleship; a daily walk with God; a principle of love and pacifism; the Church as a family not an organisation; adult baptism; congregational Church government; and the separation of Church and State, The spread through Europe and were intensely persecuted by both the Roman Catholic Church and other Protestants resulting in many deaths. One of their leaders was Menno Simons (1496-1561), whose group the Mennonites, are still functioning today.

That’s it for this time! Next time in our series HAHA, we will look at the Reformation gathering pace - this time in England!

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