On Good Friday, we ask, What is Christianity?

I was asked in a recent comment ‘What is Christianity?’ To be more accurate, I was asked; ‘Perhaps you would be able to explain what you take Christianity to be?’ The same person also commented ‘… isn’t the purpose of Christianity, the end goal, to get into heaven? You accomplish this via doing good etc.’ We will see from the Bible verses that follow: we do not become Christians by doing good.

Without being evasive it’s important to preface my reply with this; It isn’t ‘what I take’ Christianity to be that counts. It’s what God says through His Word that counts. What the Bible teaches is quite plain so anyone can check what I’m saying with the Bible text itself. In fact, please don’t take my word for it – check it out and read it for yourself! So ‘what I take Christianity to be’ is what the Bible plainly teaches and says it is. But yes, it is ‘my take’, the same take that has consistently been taught by the Historic Christian Church for the last 2000 years. I’m not saying anything new. To ask ‘What is Christianity’ is to ask What is a Christian? and What is a Church? And further it’s to ask What is the Gospel? These are THE most fundamental questions to ask. I’m not addressing the concept of a ‘Christian’ culture, or some form of social Christianity or of a National consciousness. And for the record, the UK is NOT a Christian nation. Being born in the UK has NEVER made a person a Christian, any more than being born in a bakery will make a person a loaf of bread (choose your own metaphor).

If you are still with me I’m going to quote some verses from the Bible that show plainly and beyond doubt that a person does not become a Christian by being good or doing good things. It depends solely on what someone else has done. Namely, it’s what Jesus Christ has done that counts.

Jesus is speaking in Luke 18:9-14

Luk 18:9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:
Luk 18:10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
Luk 18:11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
Luk 18:12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
Luk 18:13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!
Luk 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Apostle Paul writing to the Romans 3:10-28

Rom 3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
Rom 3:11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
Rom 3:20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Rom 3:24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Rom 3:28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

And Romans 5:1-12

Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom 5:2 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.

Writing to the Galatians 3:1-13

Gal 3:10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
Gal 3:11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”

To the Ephesians 2:1-10

Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
Eph 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

And writing to Titus 3:3-7

Tit 3:3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
Tit 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
Tit 3:5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
Tit 3:6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Tit 3:7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

I’ll leave it at that, but the Bible teaches clearly and plainly that Salvation is not earned, it is a gift. A gift that is received through faith. Not airy fairy faith, but faith in a person – The Lord Jesus Christ. And what that person has done for sinners like me.

What exactly then has Jesus done that we couldn’t do for ourselves? How appropriate the timing of this post. What is Good about ‘Good Friday’ is that Jesus has paid the price of my Redemption in full by dying in place of the sinner. The charge against us as sinners is that we have not kept God’s law perfectly in every part. But Jesus has. We have not loved God with all our hearts & soul, but Jesus has. We need someone who can do it for us – Jesus has done this. And so the command of the Gospel is to Repent & Believe. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13). In the light of all this John 3:16 makes perfect sense. Our response should be in the light of what God in Christ has done is to cry ‘Have mercy on me a sinner’.

This will all be quite shocking to anyone that’s never come across this before. But it’s what Christianity is all about. There’s something in us that wants to add something, or do something, to work our way into heaven. The Gospel message is incredibly radical: there’s nothing like it. We are called upon to simply trust in the work of another. And this Jesus didn’t just die, but rose from the dead having paid the price of Redemption in full. ‘It is finished’ Jesus cried from the Cross.to die no more. (John 19:30)

Verses 2 & 3 from the Hymn ‘Rock of Ages’ sum it up beautifully:

2. Not the labours of my hands
Can fulfil Thy law’s commands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.

3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

‘Rock of Ages’ Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778

Finally, just because someone by the Grace of God becomes a Christian, a Saint, a believer, that doesn’t make them perfect. But it does make them forgiven, Justified & Righteous because they have been given (not earned or even deserved – Romans 6:23) the Righteousness of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus lived the perfect sinless life required by the law of God (Hebrews 4:15). And historically this is what the Reformation was about and still is about. A sinner is saved by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, by Christ Alone and to the Glory of God Alone.

Now, dear reader, you may not like this, but it’s what the Bible teaches. There is no hope outside of The Lord Jesus Christ. It is His work Alone to save. And if you are a believer, thank God for His Salvation wrought upon the Cross and now raised from the dead to die no more (Hebrews 7:25).

Repent therefore and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15).

 

My song is love unknown

I was looking through my Hymn Book yesterday evening and happened upon this wonderful Hymn. It’s a shame many of these ‘Traditional’ Hymns are falling into disuse. If you listen to the You Tube video – skip the ad.

1 My song is love unknown,
My Savior’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take, frail flesh and die?

2 Christ came from heaven’s throne
Salvation to bestow;
But people scorned, and none
The longed-for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.

3 Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the way
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.

4 They rise, and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they saved,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.

5 Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.

Samuel Crossman, 1624 – 83

New April History Lecture

There’s been a change to our lecture for 28th April 2014. Austin Walker will now be bringing his lecture on the Donatists next year. We have three lectures for next year and full details will follow shortly.

Our last lecture then for this year will now be given by Dr Lesley Rowe on the topic “Arthur Hildersham and the Plague Summer of 1625″.

Some may have previously heard Dr Rowe on this subject, but I’m reliably informed that this is a new lecture with new material. Dr Rowe’s PhD thesis was on ‘The worlds of Arthur Hildersham (1563-1632)’ and there’s a favourable review of her book ‘The Life and Times of Arthur Hildersham‘ in Evangelicals Now by Dr Robert Oliver.

My appetite is now wetted and I’m really looking forward to the lecture. If you can make it to Bulkington Congregational Church on Monday 28th April, 7.30 it would be great to see you.

Audio as usual will follow when available.

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BBC News – David Cameron speaks of Christian faith in Easter message

BBC News – David Cameron speaks of Christian faith in Easter message.

David’s Message embedded below for your education – not edification.

What a good fellow David is to share his message of Easter with the Nation. I say his message because it isn’t the message of the Bible. The message of Easter is about Jesus the Son of God coming into the world to bleed and die in the place of sinners. The message of the Gospel is to Repent & Believe the Gospel. It’s good that people are neighbourly and help one another, but being neighbourly doesn’t make anyone a Christian – this is implied is his Easter message. One way to distinguish between true & false is not what’s said, but what is not said. The Bible is very plain – and honest – in telling sinners (that’s all of us) that without The Saviour (there is only one) we are lost and undone and will end up in hell.

There’s a lot more to it, but for now please notice, there are two very exclusive aspects to the Christian message. 1. We are all sinners, no exceptions, all of us are guilty before a Holy & Righteous God and deserving of being cast into hell. 2. Jesus is the ONLY Saviour and the ONLY way to be right with God. This is contrary to Islam and EVERY other faith. To say otherwise, as David does, is to deceive and to be dishonest. I have to tell you the truth. The sad truth is David Cameron may well be deceived himself. Before you can have the peace of God, you, me, all of us need Peace with God. (Romans 5:1-2) That Peace is only obtained by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ and NO other way. Now if he were to share that…

If we could save ourselves or were good enough to enter heaven – why did Jesus have to die? Like the rest of us then, David needs to Repent & Believe the Gospel. (Mark 1:14-15). 

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Thomas Boston Lecture MP3 Available

The MP3 Audio of the  History Lecture Thomas Boston (1676-1732) anticipates the death of Queen Anne’ is now available.

The more I think about it, the lecture was not only a great encouragement, but also very challenging. This is a major purpose of the lectures. It’s not just an opportunity to stuff our heads full of facts – as useful as that might be. But we do see through the lives of Christian men & woman of the past how God has kept them and how in the case of this lecture stepped in providentially to preserve the Church. To have some knowledge of history is really important. I remember a few years ago inviting Iain Murray to come and lecture – he replied ‘are Christians interested in history?’. Quite an indictment, one wonders sometimes.

The lecture spoke powerfully, I thought, into the present situation of the Church. Powerful people die, sometimes unexpectedly. The death of Queen Anne was hugely significant as you will hear. I commend this and the other lectures to you.

The lecture can be downloaded HERE.

Visit my Website for many other history lectures HERE

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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Speaks

I don’t want to keep going on about this – really I don’t. But it’s exactly as I said right from the word go – Justin Welby is just like the rest. The BBC News Website quotes him as saying;

‘Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said on Friday night the Church of England would now drop its opposition to same-sex marriage, as Parliament had spoken.

“The law’s changed; we accept the situation,” he told the BBC.’

No Justin we don’t accept the situation.  ’Parliament had spoken’ Justin said. But hadn’t God already spoken. The Word of God for the Archbishop is clearly of no consequence. As I’ve said many times this isn’t about ‘having a go at Gays’ or intolerance, the issues are much bigger than that. The Archbishop has put the Word of God to one side and replaced it with the word of men. That is the issue. Do we accept the word of men, or the Word of God?

Here’s how crazy the logic is. In the same BBC piece a CofE Vicar said;

‘Mr Cain, who plans to marry his partner in the summer, said he would do so whether the Church (and the Bible) approved or not (the Bible doesn’t).

“It is more important to do what is right than to be frightened into not doing what I believe to be true.’

But Mr Cain, I believe it’s false. So where does that leave us. Clearly we need a more sure word, an objective Truth. I wonder where we could find such a thing? Surprise surprise! In the Bible Mr Cain. Why is Mr Cain a minister when he doesn’t believe any of it.

Just because Archbishop Welby and his politically correct Godless mates accept it – some of us don’t. Just because Same-sex marriage is now legal, that doesn’t make it right. To do that, Parliament will need to change the Word of God. If it were possible they would. Don’t underestimate the wiles of Satan, he will make every effort to sideline the Bible, and with the help of the Archbishop. Historically, not an unusual occurrence! Don’t think it will stop here.

Thankfully Jesus said ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.’ (Mat 24.35)

Same-Sex Marriage – Against God’s Law

At midnight tonight same-sex marriage will become legal in England and Wales. I know we are supposed to give up on this issue and treat same-sex marriage as normal. The problem is for anyone that takes the Bible seriously for what it actually is, the Word of God, this is not possible.

With a new empowerment, emboldened by an Anti-Christian State so-called tolerance will be meted out on Christians or anyone else that refuses to bow down and worship this manifestation of Baal.

However strong this latest rebellion against the Lordship and Kingly rule of Jesus Christ, it will ultimately fail. In that last day,

‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ (Php 2:10 & 11)

But while we are in Gospel days and while there is still time, Repent and Believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15).

 

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The Unger Move of Apologetics? | Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely…

A very helpful post here from Pastor Unger. Hat Tip to Jim over at Domain for Truth for his post.

The Unger Move of Apologetics? | Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely….

History Lecture on Thomas Boston

Our next History Lecture will be:

Thomas Boston (1676-1732) anticipates the death of Queen Anne’

Bulkington Congregational Church

7:30 pm Monday 31st March 2014

Speaker: John Kilpatrick

Be great to see you if you can make it.

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How sad our state by nature is!

Isaac Watts

How sad our state by nature is!
Our sin, how deep it stains!
And Satan binds our captive minds
Fast in his slavish chains.

But there’s a voice of sovereign grace
Sounds from the sacred word:
“Ho! ye despairing sinners, come,
And trust upon the Lord.”

My soul obeys th’ almighty call,
And runs to this relief;
I would believe thy promise, Lord;
O help my unbelief!

To the dear fountain of thy blood,
Incarnate God, I fly;
Here let me wash my spotted soul
From crimes of deepest dye.

Stretch out thine arm, victorious King
My reigning sins subdue;
Drive the old dragon from his seat,
With all his hellish crew.

A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On thy kind arms I fall;
Be thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus, and my all.

Isaac Watts: Ju­ly 17, 1674 - No­vem­ber 25, 1748.