I change, He changes not, The Christ can never die; His love, not mine, the resting place, His truth, not mine, the tie.
Last year we saw in 2020 with all the usual celebrations and the usual wish of a Happy & Prosperous New Year. Things didn’t work out that way. Nobody saw or predicted what was to come. What a year it was. And then celebrations (though very different) and wishes for a Happy New Year have again been expressed. Everyone (mostly everyone) is saying this year, 2021, will be a better year. We have the Vaccine. All will be well. Not necessarily.
If your business survived and you are able to pick it up again – great! But in many respects 2021 will be much the same as the previous year. Because we live in what is described as a fallen world people are still going to be ill. People are still going to die. All the hardships that are endured will in that sense continue. Things continue much the same in our ever changing fallen world. Our bodies continue to grow old. So so many awful things happen in our unstable sinful world. Things don’t stay the same in the sense of stability, rather, things continue in a sinful unstable state where nothing stays constant. The only constant for us is our sinfulness.
The only reliable constant is the Lord God. He stays the same. I don’t want to be a wet blanket. Instead, let me point you to the only wise God. We’ve just celebrated how God has intervened in our world by sending His Son – The Lord Jesus Christ. Isn’t it time you considered Him?
The verse above came into my mind this morning. Below is the full text of the hymn. Worth pondering. Christian, rejoice that His love and grace remains the same. Enjoy. Happy New Year!
I hear the words of love,
I gaze upon the blood,
I see the mighty sacrifice,
and I have peace with God.
‘Tis everlasting peace,
sure as Jehovah’s Name;
’tis stable as His steadfast throne,
for evermore the same.
The clouds may come and go,
and storms may sweep my sky –
this blood-sealed friendship changes not:
the cross is ever nigh.
My love is oft-times low,
my joy still ebbs and flows;
but peace with Him remains the same –
no change Jehovah knows.
I change, He changes not,
The Christ can never die;
His love, not mine, the resting place,
His truth, not mine, the tie.
My friend Ken Samples has recently posted an article on his page about Original Sin. Basically saying how this doctrine has great explanatory power. Why? Because we see it at work in ourselves and in the world every day. I remember a Tozer sermon where he said how it is sin that has filled all the prisons, how it is sin that causes all the brutality and cruelty, the lying and deceitfulness, and the pride and arrogance we see in the world – and in ourselves.
How sad our state by nature is!
our sin how deep it stains!
and Satan binds our captive minds
fast in his slavish chains.
(Isaac Watts, 1674 – 1748)
His article made me realise afresh what it is that will be great (one of the things anyway) about heaven. There will be no sin. None at all! That is good news. Although if you love your sin that is not good news. There’s a double edge to that. It’s not good news because you love your sin and the rescuer has come. But you don’t want rescuing! Or you don’t see the need for a rescuer. And it’s not good because there will be a price to pay – eventually. You may hang on to your sin, and you may love it: But it’s only for a season. It will be short-lived.
To some extent we all love our sin – including Christians. But Christians can look forward, and do look forward, with joyful anticipation to that time when we shall be unencumbered by our sin. The glory of being without sin will be to worship God. To worship face-to-face without sin. Robert Murray M’Cheyne puts it so well in verse two of ‘When this passing world is done.’
When I stand before the throne,
dressed in beauty not my own,
when I see Thee as Thou art, love Thee with unsinning heart,
then, Lord, shall I fully know,
not till then, how much I owe.
(Robert Murray M’Cheyne, 1813 – 1843)
This is our desire as Christians is it not – to Love Thee with unsinning heart!
But not yet. But the Rescuer has come! Christ The Saviour has been born. He has lived. He has died. He has risen. He has ascended. And He will return!
Perhaps this Christmas with all the disruption and confusion, and even great sadness for some, we have lost sight of what it is we are supposed to be celebrating?
Yes, the Rescuer has come! Jesus, the Saviour for sinners!
The doctrine of original sin has great explanatory power. It explains the state of our world. But the Christian Gospel offers much more than an explanation. It provides an answer. In fact the only answer.
Again, there is only one answer. Jesus, The Rescuer has come.
You will hear it, you may even sing it, but pray with the hymn-writer:
O holy Child of Bethlehem
descend to us, we pray;
cast out our sin, and enter in;
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Immanuel.
(Philip Brooks, 1835 – 1893)
Call upon Jesus The Lord. Call upon Him to be your Rescuer! To be your Lord Emmanuel.
‘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.
Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death (Proverbs 11:4).
In the day of wrath by which is meant either death, which brings us ultimately to that day, or the day itself which will bring to an end this present evil age. When this age passes we enter an eternal and permanent state. For the day of wrath wealth will have no currency, indeed it’s value will be far less than the most accelerated hyper-inflation ever seen. We could also see wealth as not simply currency but also social worth. Wealth and social standing may gain a person entry into the most prestigious celebrations – even Royalty – but in the day of wrath, any currency will fail to have any influence.
A person may be poor but aspire to wealth and yet have none. They think by aspiring to aristocracy or the wealthy, the industrialist or the successful entrepreneur there will be a way of escape. If only I were wealthy? Not so, for we are told wealth is worthless in the day of wrath. See Revelation 6: 15-17.
Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. (V 15)
They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! (V 16)
For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” (v 16)
The Bible nowhere condemns wealth as intrinsically wicked. There’s nothing wrong with earning money or being wealthy. But there’s no virtue with it. It will not earn favour with The Almighty. By the same token, there’s no virtue to being poor either. The politics of envy is popular in our day and is a form of rebellion towards the providence of a generous God. Back in the 1st Century if as a slave you could be free, so be it. So there’s nothing wrong with changing your position or a promotion. But riches and poverty have to be held in relation to God. Yes, that’s easy to say in the West. I know this. Go and read the parable Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) and see where you would rather end up. Riches for that man were worthless. But Lazarus wasn’t saved by being poor but by trusting God, whereas the Rich Man rejected the Word of God.
But righteousness delivers from death. Death is synonymous with wrath ‘for it is given to man once to die and then judgment’ (Heb 9:27). But the text says we are delivered through righteousness. That is, by being righteous. Many understand Christians to be saying ‘we are righteous’ and mean by this ‘look how wonderfully righteous we are’. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth! We aren’t delivered by our own righteousness or by any righteous deeds. We are delivered by what has been called an alien righteousness – that is a righteousness from outside ourselves. We have no internal inherent spark of righteousness. To think otherwise is foolishness. The Bible says quite clearly ‘there is none righteous, no, not one (Rom 3:10)’ The righteousness the text speaks of must come from another. But who, since ‘there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins’ (Ecc 7:20). The Apostle John wept at the thought of no deliverer: ‘and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it (Rev 5:4).
So it isn’t just righteousness but a particular righteousness. The righteousness of a person. This person is The Lord Jesus Christ. It is He that delivers from death, destruction, and despair’.
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.
(Joseph Hart 1773-1844)
And it is only Jesus that is able to deliver from death. Having the righteousness that comes from God isn’t one option that we pick from many – which is often how it’s portrayed even by so-called ministers of religion. The truth is, it’s either the righteousness that God offers or you choose to go it alone. So if you do find yourself in an eternal hell, remember, you’ll be there because that was the choice you made.
Jesus is calling people to Himself. He says ‘come to me and I will give you rest’ (Matt 11:28-30). At the start of His earthly ministry, Jesus said ‘Repent and believe the Gospel’ (Mark 1:15). He also said ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink’ (John 7:37). The Son of God, the one who died and rose, who lives for evermore, the one who has defeated death is the one who calls you to Himself. Do not delay (2 Cor 6:1-2).
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20).
1. Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore!
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.
He is able, He is able, He is able,
He is willing, doubt no more!
2. Let not conscience let you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness he requireth
Is to feel your need of him.
This he gives you, This he gives you, This he gives you:
‘Tis the Spirit’s glimmering beam.
4. Come ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and mangled by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
Not the righteous, Not the righteous, Not the righteous;
Sinners Jesus came to call.
5. Agonizing in the garden,
Lo! your Maker prostrate lies!
On the bloody tree behold Him:
Hear Him cry, before He dies:
“It is finished!” “It is finished!” “It is finished!”
Sinner, will this not suffice?
6. Lo! The incarnate God ascending,
Pleads the merit of His blood;
Venture on Him, venture freely;
Let no other trust intrude.
None but Jesus, None but Jesus, None but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good.
Extracted is the legal pain. These five words in verse two form a single line in this remarkable hymn by Charles Wesley. This is Wesley at his best as someone said. These hymns are not inspired in the same authoritative sense that the Bible is but they can convey profound truth in a wonderful way. Inspired perhaps with a little i. These five words convey two very important Bible truths. Truths that need to be constantly stated because man in sin always assumes and seeks to state the opposite and to deny the truth. So what are these two truths?
1. ‘Extracted is the legal pain’ tells us of a problem. Any punishment is unpleasant and we all recognise that it’s the result of doing something wrong. Overstay in a car park and a demand for payment will arrive in the post. Get caught speeding and you’ll get a fine. These are trite examples but you get the idea. If you get caught breaking the law of God – and make no mistake we have all been caught – payment is required. The Bible calls it sin. And as we continue sinning, that is, as we continue breaking the law of God we are, as it were, earning a wage. The Bible says very plainly that the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). As if that wasn’t bad enough, the reason we continue to sin is because there’s a deeper problem. The problem is that there’s a something wrong with our nature. But we seek to deny it or play it down. What problem? There’s nothing wrong with me, you might say, even though you know full well there is a problem. There’s a deep-seated problem that’s impervious to mere outward reformation. What’s required is a reformation that goes far beyond any outward change. Changes of habit or lifestyle are definitely in vogue and even make good viewing. But these changes will do nothing for us legally before God. In the court of God who can make representation for us when on every hand we are found guilty in thought word and deed. Any earthly representative has the same problem. It’s no accident The Lord Jesus Christ is called our Advocate (1 John 2:1). The problem for us is that we need a nature that is beyond the law. There isn’t one! The law of God condemns all. It slays all! All are guilty and found wanting before a Holy and Righteous God.
2. Although the words speak of punishment in an excruciating manner the legal pain is being extracted from an innocent party. The fact is, the legal pain should really be extracted from me, the guilty sinner, but it’s been extracted from another! Secondly then, to ‘Extract the legal pain’ speaks of Substitutionary Atonement. And this is the heart of The Gospel and why The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world. And it’s why at Christmas we realise why The Christ came. It’s not really about stars, stables and shepherds but about a bloody cross, about agony of soul and of body, about punishment and death. It’s about the cost of Redemption! A cost we sinners cannot ever possibly pay. Not even an eternity will extract the legal pain from us! We need another to do it for us. One that is suitably qualified for the awful task. Although Wesley has captured the horror of breaking the law of God putting the frighteners on you is not necessarily a good evangelistic strategy. But on the other hand, you are a fool if you ignore it because you don’t like being threatened or dislike ‘hellfire preaching’. The truth is, there is a Hell. And there’s only one way to escape it (Heb 2:3). That way is The Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Being ‘right with God’ is a legal declaration that God makes. This is the Justification by faith that is celebrated this 500th Reformation year – and every year. Because of what Christ has accomplished on the Cross, God is able to be just and to justify those that have faith in The Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 3:23-26).
So it’s no wonder the Wise men and the Shepherds rejoiced when the Salvation of God appeared. We Christians ought to be amazed at what God did in sending His Son. And we are amazed at what Christ has done by coming to us when we could not and would not go to Him (Heb 10:5). Salvation truly is of The Lord. Will you trust Him? Is your faith in The Christ? Please have a happy Christmas. But don’t ignore or neglect what it’s really all about.
We live in a fallen world and it can be a terrible blow to receive difficult medical news. Christians don’t get a free pass on suffering. But these words may help the one trusting in Christ.
‘Dark, dark hath been the midnight,
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.’
There’s no getting away from the fact that we are all on a one way journey. There is no reverse. The sand of time will run out. For the Christian, amidst their sorrow – and it’s a real sorrow – there is Hope. I have to pause for a moment, because when the Bible uses the word Hope, it doesn’t mean a vague wishful thinking in the face of a bleak unknown. It means a certainty, into a Glorious future. The words above are the second part of the first verse. Here’s the full hymn as found in Christian Hymns, No 816. Christian, rejoice and ponder each precious truth. What a blessing to be saved and have The Lord Jesus as Saviour!
The sands of time are sinking;
The dawn of heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for,
The fair, sweet morn, awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight,
But day-spring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.
The King there in His beauty,
Without a veil is seen;
It were a well-spent journey,
Though seven deaths lay between;
The Lamb with His fair army
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.
O Christ, he is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love;
The streams on earth I’ve tasted,
More deep I’ll drink above;
There to an ocean fullness,
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.
With mercy and with judgement
My web of time He wove,
And aye the dews of sorrow
Were lustered with His love:
I’ll bless the hand that guided,
I’ll bless the hand that planned,
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.
The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear bridegroom’s face,
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of grace;
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand:
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel’s land.
I’ve wrestled on towards heaven,
‘Gainst storm and wind and tide;
Now, like a weary traveller
That leans upon his guide,
Amid the shades of evening,
While sinks life’s lingering sand,
I hail the glory dawning
From Immanuel’s land.
Author: Samuel Rutherford; Author: A. R. Cousin (1857)
(This version in Christian Hymns, 816)
What mercy, what judgement as He weaves our web of time! What a wonderful thing, what a joy it will be to ‘Bless the hand that guided’ and to ‘bless the heart that planned’. Will it be your joy to Bless and Praise Jesus. I pray it may be so.
We were treated to a wonderful sermon this morning from a passage in the Gospel of John 16:25 – 33. The sermon focused on the words of Jesus in v33 ‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world‘.
Pastor Watts had two very simple points; i) what the passage does not say and ii) what it does say.
To anyone that is suffering or in pain of any sort I recommend this sermon. Suffering and pain are a part of living in a fallen world and there is no escape from these things. No matter how powerful you are or how much wealth you might have you are unprotected ultimately from pain and suffering. If you are a believer I pray this sermon will be a great blessing to you. If you are not a believer I pray you will bow the knee to King Jesus that the blessing of God may be upon you – and that you may have Hope in Christ.
What a difference between Muhammad and Allah. Did either love sinful creatures as our Lord Jesus Christ? This is brought out beautifully in The Belgic Confession, Article 26: About the Intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ. Does Muhammad love like this? Does the God of Islam, Allah, love like this? Did Allah come down to lay his life down for sinners. Not at all! Allah is removed from his creatures and cannot enter into our world. Muhammad, himself a sinner cannot provide salvation for anyone as he is a sinner also in need of salvation. Sinners will not find absolution, the forgiveness of sins or peace with God through Mohammed but they may certainly find it through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Read all of Article 26 but note the following extract:
‘For there is, neither among heaven nor among the terrestrial creatures, one who more lovingly embraces us than Christ Himself, Who, “although He was in the form of God, emptied His very self,” and, on account of us, “was made like His brethren in all things.” But if we had to contrive another Mediator for ourselves through seeking, who would deem us of some worth, who would love us more zealously than He Himself Who willingly abandoned His own life on our behalf when we were up to that point enemies?’
What are we to say? Can Mohammed save? Did Mohammed die in the place of his followers? Does Mohammed intercede for sinners? Mohammed only left rules and regulations. Jesus kept the law of God perfectly and then died in the place of sinners. ‘In my place condemned He stood, sealed my pardon with His blood’!
In Islam YOU submit. It’s a religion of works, and you’ll never know if it’s enough. Christianity is a religion of Grace (undeserved favour), someone else has submitted – JESUS has submitted. No-one else is good enough. (1 Tim 2:5; Heb 7:25 – 28; John 14:6)
1 Man of sorrows! ‘what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!
2 Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood:
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!
3 Guilty, vile and helpless, we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full atonement! – can it be?
Hallelujah, what a Saviour!
4 Lifted up was He to die,
‘It is finished!’ was His cry;
Now in heaven exalted high:
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!
5 When He comes, our glorious King,
All his ransomed home to bring,
Then anew this song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!
Philip Paul Bliss, 1838 – 76. Version in Christian Hymns (1978) No, 221.
It’s worth comparing, so here’s a link to three articles hosted by the Islamic site The Religion of Islam about salvation. All three are together in This Link.
The articles are:
Salvation in Islam (part 1 of 3): What is Salvation?
Salvation in Islam (part 2 of 3): Worship and Obey God
Salvation in Islam (part 3 of 3): Repentance