The Dead can do Nothing

On Saturday evening at Ebenezer’s 50th Church anniversary weekend; Dr Eryl Davies gave a most striking illustration on Eph 2:1  ‘And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.’

It went something like this:

‘Some of you,’ he said, ‘have stood over the body of a loved one, maybe you were crying, but no matter how much you wanted that loved one to be alive, they are dead.’

And they stay dead.

It’s an extremely powerful image. I’ve stood over the bodies of several dead loved ones. I can tell you, it’s a sobering experience. So his illustration wasn’t lost on me, or on others.

The point he went on to make is that only the Spirit of God can bring life to the sinner. The Bible speaks very plainly that spiritually by nature we are dead. The problem is that unbelievers think they are very much alive.

The Apostle Paul goes on to say that ‘we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:3)’ That is the position of the person without Christ. All seems well and Christians appear to be the most foolish people on earth. The reality is very different. Unbelievers are described in a variety of ways. Dead, darkened in their understanding, blind, ignorant, hard-hearted and many more. In other words, it’s a hopeless situation. There is no flicker of life.

Those of us that are Christians recognise that description because it describes where we were. (Our redemption is not yet complete. We know we have black hearts.) What happened?

Eph 2:4  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,

Eph 2:5  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

God stepped in. There’s no room for pride or any sense of achievement.

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.

So how does a dead person, a walking dead person, become alive? Well, he certainly doesn’t do it to himself as the above illustration so clearly demonstrates. God does it. God makes us alive and grants the gift of repentance and faith in The Lord Jesus Christ. And He normally works through something similar to what you have just read. That is, the proclamation of the Gospel. This is why it is SO important to be in a church where the Gospel of the grace of a God in Christ is regularly preached.

How can you become alive? Or how can you be saved? Read how this happened to a hardened jailer in the 1st Century.

Act 16:29  And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas.

Act 16:30  Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Act 16:31  And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Or as Jesus Himself put it:

Mar 1:15 …. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

JESUS – Who is He?

JESUS – Who is He?

One Christmas hymn asks:

‘Who is He in yonder stall,
At whose feet the shepherds fall?’

Who is this person? Jesus has profoundly affected the lives of millions and even altered the direction and history of whole nations. Yet there’s an astonishing ignorance of who He really is.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the Son of God. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day fully understood what Jesus was claiming by saying He was the Son of God. Jesus was claiming equality with God the Father. The religious leaders were incensed by this claim. They were seeking to kill Him because He was ‘making himself equal with God (John 5:18).’ Jesus was claiming to be God and under Jewish religious law was blasphemy and punishable by death.

The Christian Church makes exactly the same claim today. Jesus, the Son of God, is God. Many today are incensed by that truth claim.

Jesus at one time asked His disciples ‘Whom do people say that I am’. Just like our own day, they replied by saying, the people have many ideas about His identity. But then Jesus made it more personal by asking ‘Whom do YOU say that I am?.

There’s a vague notion about the identity of Jesus, but few find out for themselves, preferring to simply parrot what others say.

When Jesus asked ‘Whom do you say that I am?’ Peter, one of the disciples, replied by saying that Jesus is ‘The Son of the living God.’ In saying this, Peter acknowledges that Jesus is God (See Matthew 16:13-17).

You too may have a vague notion that Jesus is not like everyone else and might even concede that Jesus said some good things. You might even see that it makes sense to see Him as God, but you just don’t believe it. You might say ‘I’m fine, it’s not for me.’ But this has no bearing on its truthfulness. As an illustration: think about gravity. You can’t see it. But it affects our lives every moment. And if you were to jump out of a window you would very quickly be confronted with its reality. Apparently, survivors of suicide regretted jumping the split second gravity took over as they hurtled to their death.

The split second you leave this life and your spirit leaves your cold dead body you will immediately believe that Jesus is God. Tragically, it will be too late. The Bible says ‘now is the accepted time, now is the day of Salvation (2 Cor 6:2).’

The chorus of the hymn I started with answers the ‘Who is He’ question by saying this:

‘Tis the Lord! O wondrous story!
‘Tis the Lord! the King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him! Crown Him, Lord of all!

What must you do in the light of who Jesus is? It’s what we all must do. You need to bow before Him. Acknowledge your rebellion towards your God and plead for mercy on the basis that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners 1 Timothy 1:15).


To hear more about The Lord Jesus Christ, join us for a Sunday service.

Service times at Alfred Place Baptist Church

Sunday morning at 11:00 & Sunday evening at 5:00.

Or drop into our regular Coffee morning: Wednesdays 11:00 – 1:00.

 


This is my first attempt at an Evangelistic Leaflet. The errors are all mine but If you can use it, please go ahead.

The Christian Worldview & BREXIT (Al Mohler – The Briefing)

Not everyone will agree with this (obviously), but for me, Al Mohler is absolutely spot on with this. Below is the Transcript from Friday’s The Briefing. And THIS LINK for the Audio.


Sovereignty, subsidiarity, and the future of Europe: What the Brexit deal tells us about the prospect of the EU

But next, we turn to another story with huge worldview implications, most of which are simply not acknowledged in the mainstream media coverage. We’re talking about the world’s messiest divorce in history. It’s actually not between a husband and a wife, it is between Britain and the European Union, the so-called Brexit. British voters voted quite unexpectedly in the views of the political elites early in 2016, to leave the European Union for Britain to declare its economic independence and to leave the union that had so characterized Europe in the post-war period.

This was a declaration that Britain intended to exercise and to assert its national sovereignty. But that, of course, led to a huge array of the most complicated questions ever confronted in modern politics. How in the world would a nation like the United Kingdom, which has been so integrated into the European Union exit? The word Brexit, as it became popularly known, was actually a clever political neologism. It was a word coined out of the blue, a combination of Britain and exit, thus Brexit.

…political elites first of all in Europe, but also in the United Kingdom were absolutely confident that the voters in the UK would never vote to leave the European Union. But that’s exactly what they did.

It is really important to notice that the political elites first of all in Europe, but also in the United Kingdom were absolutely confident that the voters in the UK would never vote to leave the European Union. But that’s exactly what they did. This then precipitated to the biggest political crisis in modern diplomatic history. How would the United Kingdom leave the European Union? That’s still an unanswered question. It was declared earlier this week that the British government under Prime Minister Theresa May had reached a Brexit agreement with the forces in Brussels that are responsible for the European Union. It had to be a negotiated exit. This is how complicated the situation is.

Britain had been integrated into the immigration laws, integrated into the border laws, integrated into the economic policies, integrated within the custom system of the European Union. In essence, the European Union that came out of the ashes of the Second World War was an attempt to limit the sovereignty of those European states that would join the union and create a new super national authority, the European Union.

Now, as Christians, we need to pause for a moment and recognize there is a huge problem here. That problem is a violation of the principle of what is called subsidiarity. It’s always good for Christians to be reminded of this principle. Subsidiarity is a basic principle of Christian theology, deeply embedded in the biblical worldview. It tells us that truth and reality and health subside at the most basic unit possible. If that sounds abstract, let me clarify. This means that the greatest unit of meaning is in the smallest unit of structure, which is to say that marriage is actually the centerpiece of civilization. Marriage is not healthy because the civilization is healthy. A civilization is healthy because marriage is healthy.

Marriage, the union of a man and a woman creating a family as that man and the woman have children, that creates the unit of greatest importance to the civilization. The functioning of healthy families is something that is so indispensable that no government at any level can alleviate what is missing if the family is broken. That’s a pathology that is radically demonstrated in American society, and in so many other societies today.

Subsidiarity also tells us that the most important government action is not at the highest level possible, most abstracted from the real lives of people, but rather at the closest level possible. That’s to say, a city government is more likely to be responsive to people, than a supranational authority The United States is more likely as a government to be responsive to its people, than would be the United Nations. This is a basic principle. It’s written into our constitutional order in the system of federalism that marks our constitution. It’s also important to recognize that the intellectual elites both in Europe and in the United States, increasingly have rejected subsidiarity. They have instead argued for a certain kind of internationalism.

In the views of so many, especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, bigger is always better. A global authorities better than a national authority, a national authority as far better than a state authority. That we need to note is not only the reversal of the constitutional logic of the United States, it is also the reversal of that basic Christian worldview principle of subsidiarity.

When British voters in early 2016 voted so unexpectedly for Britain to withdraw from the European Union, the arguments were extremely important, and they were generally very straightforward. European leaders argued that Britain could not leave, it must not leave. Because in so leaving it would leave the entire European project. Most major British political leaders in both major British political parties also opposed Brexit. So, this was a populist revolt that in so many ways, was matched by the populist revolt in the United States in the 2016 presidential election. Those two events Brexit in early 2016, the presidential election in the United States at the end of 2016, those really formed the year of the great uprisings in both Britain and the United States.

But Britain’s uprising, the Brexit vote, set into play a series of events that clearly is not over. But there’s a deadline, that deadline, March 29, 2019. That’s a hard exit for the United Kingdom, and that might appear to be the easiest solution except it’s not. It’s extremely complicated. Britain is so interwoven into the European Union, its policies, its economics, its politics, its policies going all the way down to regulations about produce and weights and measures. Furthermore, the very important issues of customs and trade, all of these are so deeply intertwined that it is not easy for just one partner to walk out of this relationship any more than it’s easy for one spouse to leave a marriage.

The metaphor of divorce in this case is almost entirely appropriate. It’s messy. Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to win the support of her cabinet in the middle of this week, only to have her cabinet undermined by two very prominent resignations in protest by those coming from a conservative side who argued that this is a compromise, a further compromise of British sovereignty because under the proposal of the British Prime Minister, Britain would continue to lack control over its own trade and customs, processes and policies. That is indeed a very important infringement of sovereignty.

So, what’s the principle for Christians? Why would Christians in the United States care about this? There’s a huge lesson, the lesson is this: once you surrender sovereignty, it is extremely difficult to get it back. Once you compromise subsidiarity, it is extremely costly to clarify it. There are many in the political elites in the United States who would prefer very clearly to have more federal authority than state authority, more state authority than local authority, and even more authority in international entities above the United States of America. That’s a very dangerous argument. We do live in a global community, but we’re really not a global community. We are a community of nations, but what’s really important is to recognize that the existence of the nation state is itself a protection for human dignity and human rights around the world.

The compromise of that national sovereignty is extremely dangerous. But as I said, for Christians, we understand there’s more than sovereignty at stake here, subsidiarity is at stake. The European Union did come out of the ruins, out of the ashes of World War II with the promise that the violence between states that so marked the 20th century will be overcome by integrating those nations in one big entity. There was actually explicitly the hope of something like a United States of Europe to match the United States of America. But the current European Union is complicated by the fact that the kind of union that had been envisioned, well, it turns out to have been far more idealized than can ever be realized to the perplexity are so many who want to believe that we live in a simple global community. The French continue to speak French and to act French, the Germans speak German and to have characteristics to German culture. That’s true across the board in Europe. And what you see right now in the United Kingdom is that the people of Britain decided we’re simply going to be Britain.

Now the question is: will that actually happen even as the decision of the voters in 2016 was abundantly clear, even if unexpected?

Al Mohler – The Briefing

An Important Lesson from a Christian Academic

Vern Poythress
Vern Poythress (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was (awe) struck by the list of qualifications that belong to Dr Vern Poythress.

B.S. in Mathematics – California Institute of Technology
Ph.D. in Mathematics – Harvard University
M.Div. Westminster Theological Seminary
Th.M. in Apologetics – Westminster Theological Seminary
M.Litt. in New Testament – University of Cambridge
Th.D. in New Testament – University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa

I hope Dr Poythress will forgive me but as impressive as that list is (and it is), there is ONE vitally important thing this teaches us. And I hope Christian academics will be in agreement.

The ONE main lesson it teaches is that rejecting the truth claims of the Christian faith has absolutely NOTHING to do with learning or intelligence – despite what Richard Dawkins (and others) may say. Not a single person rejects Christ because they have a superior intellect but because they are just like everyone else, sinners, rebelling against their Creator and God. They are just the same as those that rejected Christ when He was on earth ‘We will not have this man rule over us’ (Luke 19:14). But praise God, this man (Jesus) receives sinners (Luke 15:2)! The question is, who is this man? (Heb 1:3)

Let me put it another way. If you are rejecting Christ because you believe you have a superior intellect; seriously, you must be living in Trumpton.

A Bad Day for Free Speech

My off the cuff comments:

It’s funny thing to carry on as if nothing is happening, or has happened. Most will though, and simply carry on as if nothing has happened. But while we all (rightly) go about our daily business Free Speech & The Freedom of Religion has taken another battering. The ruling over Asher’s Bakery means the end of conscience. It’s clear from todays ruling that conscience, that most precious gift from God, must be aligned with another’s subjective view of how conscience is to be informed. As Christians we believe our conscience is to be informed primarily by a right application of the Word of God – The Bible. There can only be one, ultimately, objective source of ‘right & wrong’ of morality. In our day we are seeing the last vestiges of a ‘right’ means to inform the conscience being dismantled. While the Word of God and the Christian faith continues to be sidelined we ask what is the standard to be applied. It does appear to be the case, that where a conflict occurs between ‘rights’ it will in most cases automatically defer to the Anti-Christian position. But the reality is this; without an objective view of morality supplied by the Word of God the West collectively will slowly but surely itself be sidelined in favour of other civilisations. There is no ‘God-given’ ‘right’ to the West. It will eventually implode on itself. That doesn’t mean the West will disappear, or cease to be a strong economy or the place where many people will seek to find refuge. But it does mean morality will be defined ‘on the hoof’. The situation, or money, or power, or personality, or sexual orientation will decide on all moral cases. This is what must happen when the Bible is abandoned.

Victory for Christian registrar dismissed for refusing to conduct same-sex ‘marriages’ | Christian Concern

Victory for Christian registrar dismissed for refusing to conduct same-sex ‘marriages’ | Christian Concern.

Pro-lifers: the student censor’s favourite target | Abortion | Down with campus censorship! | Free speech | spiked

Pro-lifers: the student censor’s favourite target | Abortion | Down with campus censorship! | Free speech | spiked.

Good article as an example of (almost) how the ‘tolerant’ would like ‘Free Speech’ to be policed.

The idea of ‘Free Speech’ is very challenging as this quote from the article demonstrates:

‘if you take it seriously, you have to defend the free speech of precisely the people who drive you up the wall.’

The Day of our Death is Unknown

As part of my regular reading plan, this morning I read these words in Genesis 27:2 ‘Then he said, “Behold now, I am old. I do not know the day of my death“.

This truth was driven home powerfully when we heard last evening of the death of someone we knew and loved. Though not strictly speaking a family member, it nevertheless feels like it. Not an old man like Isaac that still had many years before him – he was in his early middle age. His wife had traveled to see her sick father and heard the tragic news while on the train back home. We are shocked, stunned & devastated by such sudden and tragic news.

Dear reader, the Christian faith is true and stands alone to declare the reality of Judgment & Salvation. Like aging Isaac I / we do not know the day of our death. Know only this ‘…it is appointed for men (and women)  to die once, but after this the judgment’. (Heb 9:27)

Also know this, ‘… the wages of sin is death…’ (Rom 3:23) and apart from Jesus alone, there is not a person that has ever lived who has not sinned and ‘earned’ their wages. Payment will come – either sooner or later – and at a time we will not expect!

But then know this, ‘the gift of God is eternal life, in Christ Jesus our Lord’. (Romans 3:23).

The message is clear then, Repent and believe the Gospel! For “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13) Don’t put it off though as Scripture also says ‘…Behold, now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation‘. (2 Cor 6:2)

I don’t say these things to scare you. And by the way, if you not have trusted in Christ, you should be scared. But to direct you to Jesus Christ, the ONLY Saviour, upon whom you must call.

1. Immortal honors rest on Jesus’ head;
My God, my portion, and my living bread;
In Him I live, upon Him cast my care;
He saves from death, destruction, and despair.

2. He is my refuge in each deep distress;
The Lord my strength and glorious righteousness;
Through floods and flames He leads me safely on,
And daily makes His sovereign goodness known.

3. My every need He richly will supply;
Nor will His mercy ever let me die;
In Him there dwells a treasure all divine,
And matchless grace has made that treasure mine.

4. O that my soul could love and praise Him more,
His beauties trace, His majesty adore;
Live near His heart, upon His bosom lean;
Obey His voice, and all His will esteem.

William Gadsby, 1773-1844

Cranmer: Theresa May seeks to outlaw Christian street preachers

Cranmer: Theresa May seeks to outlaw Christian street preachers.

I didn’t expect such a quick follow-up to yesterdays post about Free Speech & Religious Liberty. I was alerted to the latest move against Free Speech & Religious Liberty in our ever more Totalitarian country through listening to Janet Mefford. Interesting how our American friends see us.

The above link to Cranmer says it all. Some interesting comments as well.

Bonfire Night – A Celebration of Ignorance

Usually the week before (at least) and the week after Bonfire Night (or Guy Fawkes night) on the 5th November fireworks are going off throughout the evening. And last night proved that to be no exception. It was laughable in some ways. Here’s the scene if you can picture it. American friends might struggle to picture it though.

We are in Church, one of the members leads the Church in a time of public prayer. All the time he is praying (and right from the start of the service actually) there are loud explosions and a continuous loud crackling of fireworks going on all round the Church building. All through the singing and through the preaching there continues to be loud explosions.

What is Bonfire Night you may ask? Originally it was designated by Government (Parliament) to be a day of public thanksgiving.

The Observance of 5th November Act 1605 (3 Ja. I, c. 1) also known as the “Thanksgiving Act” was an Act of the Parliament of England passed in 1606 in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot.

Even though there might be some faint knowledge of the event – here’s how I read the significance: So here we are in a secular society that has all but forgotten God letting off fireworks that point back to an Act of Thanksgiving to the very God whose knowledge they seek to repress.

To be honest, back in my non-Christian days I was just as ignorant as those outside the Church last evening.

A Collect for 5th November, in Book of Common ...
A Collect for 5th November, in Book of Common Prayer published London 1689, referring to Gunpowder Plot and Arrival of William III (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the prayer on the right note the following prayer to God in giving thanks for the ‘Loving kindness to our Church and Nation, in the preservation of our Religion and Liberties’. Then later note further thankfulness to God that our ‘Holy Religion, which now again thou hast so wonderfully Rescued and Established a Blessing to us’.

What a contrast to our present day when for the State only the hypocritical husk of a true and lively religion remain. What a turn round from former days! The Christian Religion is under attack, of this there can be no doubt. But it is a double-edged sword because once Christian freedoms disappear it’s only a matter of time when other freedoms too will disappear. There’s a reason why so many freedom loving people want to live here – but that will change.

How the mighty have fallen! Here’s the opening paragraph to a prayer from 1606 upon the deliverance.

‘Forasmuch as almighty God hath in all ages showed his power and mercy in the miraculous and gracious deliverance of his church, and in the protection of religious kings and states, and that no nation of the earth hath been blessed with greater benefit than this kingdom now enjoyeth’.

It would be worth Prime Minister Cameron, his cabinet and government thinking on these things to discern how far we are removed from past glories and a reliance upon the grace of God to our Nation. The irony is that we as a Nation are just as reliant on the grace of God as we have ever been. But now it’s not openly confessed. Instead it is repressed.

These reflections I confess are based on one service in one Church on one evening. But I think the evening illustrates the chasm that is opening between the True Church of Jesus Christ and the sham of religiosity.

See my post from 2011.