The sermon for April 7th 2019 is now available on the New Life web-site. In this sermon, which is based on Hebrews 11, I talk about faith.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as we see the Day coming.
Priests offer sacrifices over and over, but Christ our High Priest offered the one perfect sacrifice and then sat down at God’s right hand. This one sacrifice atoned for all sin and so there is no longer any need for sacrifices.
Therefore we have confidence to enter the Holy Place knowing that our hearts and consciences have been made clean. We should spur one another on to good deeds, continuing to meet together to encourage one another.
There is a wrong belief amongst some people that we don’t need church to walk with Jesus. Apparently that belief was there from the beginning, but in our increasingly individualistic and fragmented society it is becoming more common.
On the one hand, the New Testament reassures us that we have the Holy Spirit and don’t need anyone to teach us the ways of the Lord. On the other hand, the New Testament also emphasises frequently the corporate nature of the church which is described as the Body of Christ,
We need each other to ensure that we keep growing in Christ. We need each other to complement one another’s spiritual gifts. When we are left to our own devices it is easy to be deceived into believing that we are doing well. When we meet together the exuberance of others might encourage us to go deeper in Christ. Seeing others grow in the Lord can encourage us to see that we have more to learn, more to repent, more to grow.
Thank you Jesus for the church, the Body of Christ in the world. Help me to be an encourager to my fellow christians and to be encouraged by them. Amen.
When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.
This passage compares the high priesthood of Christ in the new covenant with the high priests of the old covenant.
Christ came into the world as high priest through the heavenly “tabernacle” not through one made by human hands. His own perfect blood is the sacrifice that cleanses. His blood cleanses our consciences, and not just the outward appearance. The result is that we are set free from acts that lead to death and enabled to serve the living God.
There is a tendency amongst some christians to want to in some way go back to the sacrifices, ceremonies and worship laid out in the Law of Moses. They argue that by following these practices which were ordained by God, they are in some way superior to those who do not follow them.
The writer of “Hebrews”, though, paints a very different picture. The tabernacle, the sacrifices and the cleansing blood of the Old Testament Law have been replaced by the perfect offering of Jesus. Even the tabernacle that He passed through was better, being heavenly not earthly. The blood he offered was perfect and can cleanse us from sin and not just the outward actions of sin.
In Christ we have all we need to be reconciled to God and empowered to be His servants. We are the royal priesthood, because we serve the greatest High Priest.
Everything in the Old Testament was a picture of the reality to come. Let us not confuse the picture with the living reality.
Thank you Jesus for coming into this world as the perfect sacrifice for all the sins of mankind. Thank you for dying for me and setting me free to serve you. Amen.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest sword, cutting between soul and spirit, joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
God’s word is powerful and alive. It exposes our secret thoughts and desires. Nothing is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed to Him.
Jesus is our High Priest in heaven. Having faced every temptation but remaining sinless, He understands our struggles. Now we can come boldly into God’s presence and find mercy and grace.
The word of God is alive. The Bible is not some dusty old book that is out of date. It speaks to us because it is God’s timeless word. It brings conviction of sin and revelation of grace.
The word of God is powerful because it transforms lives of individuals and nations. As people are impacted by the word, their consciences are awakened to see how the world can be made a better place, more reflective of God’s kingdom.
The word of God is sharp. It gets right into our soul and spirit. It brings life to our spirit, empowering our relationship with Jesus. It rebukes our soul, convicting and cleansing us of sin.
The word of God exposes our secret thoughts and desires. We can put on a “holy” exterior that impresses people. But God looks at the heart, at what is going on inside us where nobody else can see. The word confronts our secret desires- both good and bad- and brings them to the surface.
To fully allow the word of God to have its full power in our lives, we need to read it in prayerful reverence, allowing the Holy Spirit to highlight words and sentences that we need to examine.
Lord God, please help me to read your word regularly, prayerfully and attentively so that you can change my heart. Amen.
God, for whom and through whom, everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader to bring them into their salvation.
We must hold on carefully to the truth of salvation, otherwise we will drift away from the truth. God confirms the gospel through signs and wonders, miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
We have been made a little lower than the angels, but we will have authority over all things. We see this already in the example of Jesus.
Everything was made for God, and He chose to bring many sons and daughters to glory. Jesus, as the first fruits of salvation, is the one who leads us into eternal life.
God made all things by Himself and for Himself, and He chose to brings many creatures into His glory.
I was made by God and for God.
We live in an age of total individualism. Nobody feels any duty to have allegiance to any authority or institution. We obey the law out of fear of consequences, rather than because it is right to be obedient.
We are made for God’s good pleasure. Therefore we have a duty to try to please Him.
Our allegiance or loyalty is to God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ.
God’s plan from before creation was to raise many people to glory. He wants to share His glory with me.
The Creator, powerful and holy, shares His glory with me, a creature of spiritual weakness and a built-in tendency to sin. How great is God’s love that He should do this for me?
Awesome, mighty God, I bow down and worship you. Your love for me is beyond my imagining. Thank you. Amen.
No one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honour. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was.
Every high priest is a man chosen to represent men to God and God to men. Because he is human he can have compassion on those who are weak or wayward.
It is not a choice of a person to become a high priest. It must be the call of God. Even Christ did not honour Himself this way, but had to be appointed by the Father.
Jesus offered many intense prayers to the Father. Even though He was God’s Son, He learned obedience through suffering and became the perfect High Priest.
Any ministry that is real must be done with a sense of call or appointment by God.
Being a pastor is, in some senses, not that hard of a job. Almost any christian with some knowledge of Scripture can cobble together a message each week. A bit of empathy for others fits one for the pastoral role. Leadership skills can be learned. It’s all easy!
After many decades of pastoring, I can say from experience that unless you know that God has called you and equipped you to pastor, the ministry will kill you- spiritually if not literally.
If satan hates christians generally, he is in constant open warfare against christian leaders. All pastors, whether they know it or not, are subject to constant spiritual attack- witchcraft, curses, accusations, temptation.
Only a fool would put themselves up for being a pastor without a clear sense of God’s calling.
But if you are called, the joy of being in the place that God has called you to be, doing the thing He created you to do outweighs all of those negatives.
Lord I thank you for all whom you call to be leaders in the church- apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Grant them your grace and your protection as they seek to serve you. Amen.