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Posts Tagged ‘Gospel’

Welcome Home: The offer of Salvation

September 15th, 2011

It is Free

  •  Jesus removes the social, cultural and moral barriers to offer her salvation. Culturally, men and women didn’t speak to each other and morally, she had five husbands so would have been shunned by society.
  • If we want to see Brightonians saved, we need to leave barriers at the door – dress, career, intellect, education, sexual orientation…We can’t let them get in the way of the good news of Jesus that we have to share.
  • It’s important that we don’t enter into conversations with non-Christians by taking the moral high ground or speaking out of compulsion or to ‘look good’ to others. People also don’t want to be treated as a ‘project’ to be completed.
  • Sharing our faith with others should be sweet but challenging. Jesus’ salvation is a gift, but it also challenges our pride – we like to think that our efforts contribute towards our salvation.

It Satisfies

  •  As we need water to survive, Jesus says we need living water to be satisfied as well.
  • On the outside, people might look happy but often feel empty on the inside. People who have accepted Jesus into their lives will live with a well of living water inside and it will be like a flowing stream – no matter what you throw at it, it will keep on going.

It is a process

  •  We cross a line of faith to become a Christian but it is also a process over a period of time.
  • Nicodemus was morally incredible but Jesus is very direct with him in telling him that salvation is a free gift and that his morality counts for nothing but with the lady at the well, he knows she is already aware of her mistakes so he takes the opportunity to offer her salvation.
  • When someone is at the top of their game in looks, wealth etc., they are least likely to think about the meaning of life but when things start to crumble, friends start to disappear and they will be ready to hear the good news of the gospel.
  • We must look at ourselves as carriers of the good news of Jesus Christ. Are we amongst our neighbours and our community? We need to know them so that we can be there for them in crisis.
  • We need to bring about conviction as well as tell them of good news. Jesus asked the woman at the well to fetch her husband, knowing that she had five previous husbands. He showed her that she was putting her meaning of life into her relationships to bring about her conviction. This then highlighted her need for salvation in Jesus Christ.
  • John 4:14 – Only Jesus can quench our thirst
  • Jesus offers so much more that forgiveness – he can be our essence of life and our all in all

 How is Salvation received?

  •  Jesus says to us that He has seen us at our worst but He still loves us. He has died for us in our place so that we can be forgiven and have a relationship with God.
  • He has cleared our debt for us –something that no man can do for us, and he does it joyfully.
  • Salvation is only received when we respond. The woman at the well responded and her life was turned upside down. She went to tell people of Jesus, people that had hated and neglected her
  • We must feel confident to meaningfully invite people to church – if friends see how important Jesus is to us, they will take our invitations seriously.
  • John 4:13

 

 

 

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Hannah’s Misfortune

January 18th, 2011

1 Samuel 1:1-7

  • This is a story of pain and agony – Hannah is barren, which is a traumatic thing anyway, but in the culture of her day it carried social stigma and shame. It was seen as a sign of disfavour and failure to not be able to have children.
  • Furthermore, living under the same roof as Hannah is her husband Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, who continuously mocks and taunts her and adds to her sense of inferiority.
  • We look at the 2 people closest to Hannah and how they responded to her suffering:

1. Elkanah

  • Although he wasn’t very sympathetic with his words, he did do something well: he dealt compassionately with Hannah.
  • He gave her a double portion ‘because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb’. He offered kindness and affirmation despite knowing that God has closed her womb.
  • He recognises that God has the power to open Hannah’s womb but hasn’t – he recognises God’s sovereignty over the situation, that nothing happens without God’s allowing it. He doesn’t try and excuse God.
  • The example of Job – people blamed his suffering on something wrong he had done, like modern-day karma. Whereas it was nothing to do with that.
  • The example of the blind man that Jesus healed in the gospels – the disciples queried whether it was his sin or his parents’ sin that made him blind; Jesus said neither, but so that the glory of God might be shown.
  • Our response should not be spectacle about why certain suffering happened, but compassion and love for that person and trust in God and His wisdom.
  • We often have no idea why God’s doing what He’s doing in our life and in the lives of others – but we do know that God works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). He has a plan and a purpose.
  • Elkanah believed God was good even before the greatest act of God’s goodness and love took place – His Son coming to earth to be misunderstood and rejected and to suffer for us.
  • Psalm 73:16-17 – we need to keep the big picture in mind – eternity.

2. Peninnah

  • The same phrase is used about God closing Hannah’s womb in relation to how Peninnah responded. The same 2 people can have the same theology and understanding, but one can be compassionate and the other can be cruel.
  • We look at Peninnah and question how someone can be so cruel – but we should be careful because we are only a few steps away from acting the same.
  • She is probably jealous of Hannah – Elkanah gives Hannah a double portion and shows special love for her. Peninnah therefore cannot enjoy her own life and is robbed of joy.
  • Jealously is incredibly harmful and destructive – it is so easy for us to be jealous of people are are seen as more special than us, e.g. Joseph and his brothers (Gen. 37:4).
  • Peninnah probably is satisfied with her lot of children – she wants what Hannah has that she doesn’t have, so she taunts Hannah about she has and Hannah doesn’t.
  • We secretly love it when the people we envy fall.
  • Envy rots your bones – Prov. 14:30.
  • Envy thrives on pride because we want to feel more special than others and for people to acknowledge it – in other words, we want to be worshipped.
  • We can only deal with pride through the gospel and understanding it. We see that we are desperately wicked and needy and deserve nothing, and that Jesus had to die a horrific death because of the evil of our sin and pride.
  • We can be freed to be truly happy for others and to offer kindness to others because God shows us such mercy.
  • Get to know Jesus and you’ll find you become more like Him.

CCK Stories

December 16th, 2009

Throughout the autumn at CCK we’ve been showing videos each week of various CCK members sharing stories of how the gospel has changed their lives.

cck-stories

These videos have served as excellent demonstrations of the tangible evidence that Jesus changes our lives, heals our broken situations, lifts us out of our addictions, carries us through times of difficulty or illness and offers us complete transformation. There are so many examples of God’s faithfulness and care in the stories shown in these videos, and they point out that the gospel is impacting people from all walks of life; whether you are an ex-rapping drug dealer or a woman provoked by the miracle of  her newborn child.

They are excellent tools for evangelism and would make great viewing for those who would find these testimonies helpful or provocative. These videos are like seeds that can be very easily sown. That’s why we have put them all together in one place! It’s really simple to forward this page on and share these stories to those who may need to hear them.

Here they are on the CCK website; CCK STORIES

And here they are on CCK’s YouTube channel; CCK STORIES

Exclusive; here’s a video unique to the web; CCK elder Matt Davis tells his story; MATT’S STORY

Author: Categories: Alternative City, General Tags: , ,

Alternative Fathers 1 Corinthians 4 v 6 – 21

December 7th, 2009

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Admonition, Not Shame

In this letter to the Corinthians Paul sometimes speaks harshly but he is not trying to make them feel ashamed or bad. He wants to admonition them as beloved children. He speaks firmly and corrects them but only in love. This should be our attitude also, we need robust care for one another.

The church is not to be a lecture hall, admonishment is not solely the preachers job. We have a collective responsibility for each other and we all need to preach at, encourage, admonish one another.
We can’t change on our own and we can’t change by just listening to sermons. We, all of us, need small groups, zones, discipleship. We need community to grow.

The thought of opening our lives to other people can be difficult, particularly if we’ve had previous bad experiences when doing this, so we should always look to restore people gently. As a church we need to grow in this.

Power, Not Talk

Paul is utterly confident in the power of God. There is lots of ‘talk’ that we hear and can even engage in ourselves but the test should be how much power comes out of it? If there is no power there the talk is worthless. We should be on guard against foolish talk. The power is in the Gospel not in the talk and Jesus is the only one with genuine power not just talk.

Titus 3.1-15 – Gospel Spreaders

September 7th, 2009

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You People are Different [1-2]

Having handled the impact of the gospel on internal relationships amongst God’s people, Paul now specifically calls Titus to set the churches straight in terms of their relationships to outsiders.

In reality this has been Paul’s burden throughout the whole letter [e.g. 2.10]. He wants healthy churches in Crete for the sake of the people in Crete who don’t yet know Jesus. None of this happens in a religious vacuum. We are always God’s sent people, being made holy for the sake of His mission to the multitudes still in darkness [John 17.15-19]. Our lives will either help draw people to Jesus or block people from Him.

The more we get our lives and relationships in line with the gospel, empowered by the gospel, the greater the sway the gospel will have in the city.

Most of us will have stories (perhaps even our own) of those who came to Christ barely needing any persuasion since they saw enough in the revolutionary kinds of relationships on display in the church community. They knew God must be real because they saw how the believers treated each other.

That is what Paul is on about.

This will be an incentive for bringing friends to church. They should see something different – even compelling – amongst us.

Specifically Paul wants Titus to look for submissiveness to those in authority – and courtesy to all people. These things need emphasising as it is easy for Christians to fall into a very ugly superiority complex and self-righteousness in dealing with ‘sinners’ without God.

Perhaps this was especially worth nailing in Crete – with its reputation for squabbling people. The gospel sets us free from the kind of grasping attitude that makes us embittered towards those in authority. Trouble is believers can swap one antagonism for another showing their new zeal for the Kingdom for God by becoming pretty obnoxious.

Remember the Old You? [3]

The root of this nastiness is pride. So Paul typically goes back to the gospel to get us down to earth. He rubs our faces in the hideous human condition without grace (and this leads to one of the most densely packed gospel descriptions in the Bible).

Isn’t it striking how God sees humankind (and God sees things as they are)? It’s an ugly list of evils. It’s also striking that it is not limited either to things we perpetrate (foolish, disobedient, malicious, envious, hating one another) or to things we suffer (led astray, slaves to passions, hated by others). None of us can hide behind our grievances – as though God couldn’t understand. God sees both the wrongs we have done and those done to us – and looks with compassion.

All of us must bear the responsibility of sin. And this is why we need to be saved.

Look What He Did [4-7]

The concept of salvation is odd enough in our culture to make many Christians – even preachers – awkward about using it. Many would rather reduce the gospel to self-help, or moralising, or having a social conscience. All this talk of needing to be saved seems over the top – from a less sophisticated age and culture. But our blindness to our need is just another symptom of the need.

And this blindness leads to religion – where we put together a spiritual construction (God, gods, a force, whatever…) to suit our preferences. But such a thing can have no power to change and rule over us. No more than any kitchen appliance.

The answer for mankind comes not from somewhere within. Our only hope is from someone outside. And this is just what has happened.

Look at how he has saved us. There are a couple of ideas locked up together in verse 5 which come together especially in the phrase ‘washing of regeneration’.

These words allude to promises made back in Ezekiel 36.25-27. God knew that the state of the human heart would always prevent his people from living for him. Something more radical than mere law – even law with great threats – was going to be necessary.

Firstly they would need to be made all over again. That is what this word regeneration is getting at. Paul is saying that, through Jesus, God’s grace has appeared in a new way – a way that was promised centuries before.

And in fact, this grace is not destined for the mere personal fulfilment of some nice religious types. God is bringing his new creation (gk: paligenesis) to the cosmos. Yes, people get to be born again – but that is because the universe will be born again – and God is just starting with people.

So be careful asking Jesus into your life – you are playing with a fire hose.

Secondly they would need to be cleansed, washed – forgiven. Ezekiel gets at this and Paul picks it up here. You word washing may well allude to baptism – but only as an outward demonstration of something which happens through the work of Jesus. Water itself will not deal with our sins. This is why the saviour gave his blood.

The result: we are declared righteous because of the perfect life, death and resurrection of Jesus and given a new nature as part of God’s renewal of the whole creation.

Can this actually be true? Are there really people of whom this is true? In Brighton? They would really stand out, right?

So Love The Lost As You Have Been Loved

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2 Corinthians 5:21

November 11th, 2008

This is arguably one of the most important verses in the Bible. One commentator puts it like this ‘There is no sentence more profound in scripture; for this verse embraces the whole ground of the sinners reconciliation to God.’ Certainly all the other great truths already stated in this chapter are dependent on the truth given to us in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

 

It tells us what God did … he sent his Son. The biggest question in the Universe must be, why does evil exist? The Bible doesn’t actually give us an answer to that, but it tells us that evil does exist; we see it in the terrible things that happen in the world but we know there is evil also in our own lives. God took an initiative against evil in sending his Son. This means that God was fully involved at the Cross. He made Jesus sin for our sake. See also Isaiah 53:4 and Acts 2:23.

It tells us who Jesus is… he is sinless. One of the most astonishing things about this claim is that Jesus was himself aware that he was sinless. See John 8:46. It is also the consistent testimony of the New Testament. See Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5. (3 different writers here). To state that Jesus is without sin is not to be understood just in a negative way; he was utterly righteous. We sin and fail to do the will of God. Who can help us? Only someone who is utterly righteous and without sin. That is the person that God sent. That person is Jesus.

It tells us what Jesus did… he was made sin. This happened at the Cross. This does not mean that Jesus became a sinner. John Stott says the meaning of this is that Jesus bore the legal consequences of our sin. This is beyond illustration for there has never been an event like the Cross of Christ, nor will there ever be. Jesus was punished for our sin and in our place.
Also Jesus dealt with all our sins. Time may be a great healer, but it is not a great forgiver. Only God can forgive us our sins. God sees all our sins past present and future equally clearly because God stands outside our limitations of time. They all stand as a record of charges against us; none of them are expunged because of time. But they are expunged by the death of Christ at Calvary. See Colossians 2:13-14. The something extraordinary happens; God remembers our sins no more. See Hebrews 8:13. This does not mean that God forgets our sins (we do and that is part of our problem) but God chooses no longer to bring them to mind.

It tells us who we are… the righteousness of God. In context this verse is not telling us that we are righteous; because we aren’t! It is telling us that we are covered with Christ’s righteousness and that is how God sees us; dressed in Christ. Christ took our sin; we are covered with his righteousness – an amazing transfer has taken place.

It tells us where we are… in him. To speak of a person being ‘in’ something identifies that person and tells you a lot about them. To be ‘in Christ’ identifies us with all the privileges of being a Christian. ‘In Christ every part of our salvation is complete.’ (John Calvin). There is no small print giving exceptions like you get with an insurance policy, In Christ everything to do with salvation is covered. This includes my sin, my body, my death, my future.
Wesley put it like this:
No condemnation now I dread
Jesus and all in him is mine
Alive in him, my living head
And clothed with righteousness divine.
Bold I approach the eternal throne
And claim the crown through Christ my own.
Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
2 Corinthians 5:21 – no sentence is more profound in scripture.

You can watch or listen to this sermon here

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