Sunday, November 15, 2015

Two Things Every Christian Needs (from Romans 1)

Paul's description of his intentions for his ministry in Rome gives us 2 useful reminders:

(1) Every Christian needs encouragement from other Christians.

Even the Apostle Paul expects to receive encouragement from the Christians at Rome (v12).

(2) Every Christian needs the gospel. Paul is eager to preach the gospel to the Christians in Rome (v15).

The gospel is for believers as well as unbelievers. It is the same basic message through which we first received life in Christ that God uses to sustain our life in Christ.

Romans 1:8-17 - an outline / handout

Romans 1:8-17 (p1128) – The Difference The Gospel Makes

Paul’s summaries of the gospel (vv2-6 & 16-17) sandwich this passage. In these central verses we can see the difference the gospel makes to Paul, and the difference it might make to us:

Paul gives thanks (v8) for the faith of the Romans

Paul prays (v9-10) for the Romans and for his visit to them

Paul plans (vv10-13) to visit Rome, but recognises God is in control

Paul is obliged / indebted (v14) to both Greeks and non-Greeks, to the wise and the foolish, to all people

Paul is eager (v15) to preach the gospel (to the Christians) in Rome

Paul is not ashamed (v16-17) of the gospel

Why is Paul eager to preach the gospel and unashamed of it?

The gospel is such good news!

The gospel is the power of God (v16)

Salvation / rescue is at stake (v16)

The gospel is for everyone (v16)

The gospel requires the response of faith (vv16-17)

The gospel reveals the righteousness / faithfulness of God, keeping his promises and justly making sinners right with him (v17)

Vv16 & 17 are crucial for the rest of the letter

1vv18-3v20 will show why everyone desperately needs this gospel

3vv21-end will show how the gospel works

May God make us thankful, prayerful, eager, unashamed planners of gospel ministry.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Screwtape Letters - some questions for reflection / discussion

Which of the errors described in the Preface (p.ix) do you think we are most likely to fall into? i.e. disbelieving in devils (the materialist) or taking an unhealthy interest in them (the magician)?
Do you agree with Lewis’ suggestion that the devil is currently following in the West a policy of denying his own existence? (p31)
Do you fall into the comical view of the devil which Lewis suggests plays into the devil’s hands? (p32)
But should we find the devil laughable / absurd? (The quotations from Luther and More at the beginning, p118)

What tactics which Screwtape suggests most stuck in your mind?
Which do you think would be most effective and why?

Were there moments when you thought Lewis had understood something about you and your temptations?

Do you think what Screwtape would call the efforts of ‘the Philological Arm’ matter?
What examples does Lewis give? (puritanical; unselfishness rather than charity (p141)) Can you think of other instances where how we describe things influences how we think about them?

Do you agree with Lewis’ implication that we have largely lost the art of argument and are not primarily influenced by what we reason to be true or false? (p1-4)
If it’s not good arguments, can you think of some things that keep people from believing in Christianity or doing what they should?

Screwtape suggests a focus on the imperfections of other Christians and of church (p5, 8-9). How would you counter this temptation?

Do you agree that we sometimes have a (supposedly) super-spiritual neglect of the obvious and real? (pp11-13)

Is Lewis right to criticize ‘prayer’ which aims at something entirely spontaneous, inward, informal, falsely spiritual and unrealized, trying to produce a vaguely devotional mood? (p15f, p148)
What advice would you give to a recent convert on prayer?
How does Lewis suggest dealing with distractions in prayer? (p147)

Do you think that bodily posture makes a difference in prayer, that because we are animals the body affects the souls? (p16)

Do you agree with Lewis that we can be distracted from God by focusing too much on our feelings or trying to stir up certain feelings in ourselves? (p16f)

Do you think we sometimes pray to our idea of God rather than to God himself? (p18)

Do you agree that hopes and fears about the future can pre-occupy us such that we neglect getting on with our duty? (p25f)
Why and how might the devil distract us from eternity and from the present? (p75-79)

How does Lewis suggest that the devil can use both self-consciousness and unself-consciousness? (p26f)
Why would the devil like us to catch ourselves being humble? (p69)
How would Lewis define humility? What notion of humility does Screwtape suggest Wormwood should encourage? (p70-3)

Do you find the idea of ‘the law of undulation’ (pp37, 45) persuasive and helpful?

In what ways would you say that the ‘troughs of dryness / dullness’ which we might experience afford opportunities to God or to the devil? (pp38-46)

How might the devil make use of the pejorative term ‘Puritanical’? (p51-2, 56)

Do you agree that flippancy is a dangerous habit? (p56) How does it differ from joy, fun and jokes? (pp53-56)
How might a sense of the ridiculous aid godliness? (p145)

Does a (vague?) consciousness of sin of which you have not repented keep you from wanting to think of God? (p58)

What innocent, humble, self-forgetful, disinterested enjoyment of something for its own sake could you cultivate? (p66) Why does Lewis think this is valuable?
What difference does it make to realize that all created things are good and can only be used by the devil if twisted? (p118, see also p159)

Why does Lewis prefer fidelity to the parish church over always seeking a ‘suitable’ church? (pp81-82)

Do you recognize ‘the gluttony of delicacy’ as an issue? (p87-90)

Do you agree with Lewis that we tend to stress ‘being (feeling) in love’ as the only possible basis for a good marriage, with negative consequences? (p93)

Are we ill-tempered because of injury and a sense of entitlement? (p111) e.g. the idea that our time is our own (p112-3, p166)

Do you agree that God is ‘a hedonist at heart’? (p118)

Is the desire for novelty and ‘the horror of the Same Old Thing’ a spiritual danger? (pp135-139)

Have you ever been involved in ‘the Generous Conflict Illusion’ or an elaborate / false self-conscious ‘selflessness’ which wants to be noticed? (p143-5)

What does Lewis think of as particular temptations of middle age? (p155)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Romans 1v16

I am preparing to preach on Romans 1vv8-17.

A number of application questions suggest themselves from v16:

'I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.'

'the gospel':
Do we forget / underestimate the goodness of the gospel?
Does the gospel delight and grip us as the best news in the world ever?

'it is the power of God':
Do we forget / underestimate the power of the gospel?
Do we realise that the gospel can save and transform anyone regardless of the difficulty of their past, or the complexity of their needs or their ignorance, indifference or hostility to it?
'for salvation':
Do we forget / underestimate the necessity / urgency of the gospel?
Do we realise that without the gospel everyone faces the wrath of God and a lost eternity?

'of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile'
Do we forget / underestimate the scope / universality of the gospel?
Are we unashamed, eager and sensing our obligation to take this gospel to all sorts of people and all the nations?

Friday, November 06, 2015

Fighter verse songs

Some of the exact words of the ESV bible made into songs so as to be memorable for adults and children, and hopefully not tooooo annoying when repeated.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Romans 1:1-7 A handout / summary / outline

If you are coming to church in Bodle Street or Warbleton tomorrow you might like to look away now. It might go something like this:

Romans 1:1-7 – A Gospel-Filled Introduction

Paul is introducing himself and his gospel message

(Likely Paul wrote this letter from Corinth around AD 57)

Two reasons for the letter to the Romans:

(1) Paul plans to visit the church at Rome and hopes they will help him on his projected mission to take the gospel to Spain (1v10-13; 15v23-33)

(2) Though Paul has never visited Rome, he is well informed about the church there (ch. 16) and likely wants to address some of their issues. In particular, it seems there were tensions between Jews and Gentiles in the church. Likely the church at Rome was originally mainly Jewish, but the Emperor Claudius had ejected the Jews around AD 49 (Acts 18:2). Gentiles would have taken on the leadership of the church. But then after Claudius’ death in AD 54, some Jews had returned. One can imagine some friction!

In summary, Paul writes to promote humble, loving, united partnership in gospel mission both within the church and with himself.

Paul – an apostle (v1) – one who is sent out with authority (cf. an ambassador)

The Apostolic Gospel:

Is this how you would summarise it?

The Gospel of God (v1)

Gospel = Good news, announcement of an epoch changing event, e.g. the birth of a new king or a victory in battle

So as God’s gospel it is true and powerful. We are not to tamper with it and we don’t need to

… promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures (v2)

This helps to authenticate Paul’s gospel – it fulfils the Scriptures

… about God’s Son (v3)

All about Jesus! A person not an “-ism” or merely rules etc. A personal relationship of trust and obedience

… who as to his human nature was a descendant of David (v4)

… and who through the Spirit of holiness (= The Holy Spirit) was crowned / appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead (v4)

In his earthly ministry Jesus was the Son of God in weakness


Christ = messiah, anointed one, the long promised rescuer-king

The response the gospel requires:

Jesus Christ calls all the nations to the obedience of faith (vv5-6)

How are we responding to this gospel?

Do we recognise that this gospel is for all people?

This is the kind of gospel ministry to seek out, to support (in prayer, financially, practically), to engage in.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thoroughly equiped for every good work (2 Tim 3:17)

Paul is laying it on thick here, isn’t he?

The Bible thoroughly equips us for every good work

It doesn’t just partially equip us.

And it doesn’t just equip us for come good works.

It thoroughly equips us for every good work.

Of course the Bible doesn’t tell you how to make a souffl√© or fix a Skoda.

But it tells us what to believe and how to live.

This is the doctrine of The Sufficiency of Scripture.

The Bible is God’s complete and sufficient word to us.

It tells us all we need to know about God, salvation and Christian living.

It answers every moral question in principle, although we need to wrestle to understand and apply it.

Sometimes the Bible tells us to use our minds.

It tells us to look at creation.

It tells us we need Bible teachers and the whole church.
And prayer.

But it is the only and sufficient Word of God to us.
God hasn't left us in the dark.
His word is light to our path and enables us to walk by faith.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Jesus' Use of the Old Testament

If you can believe what you read on the internet, Jesus quoted the OT 78 times, citing 49 different verses.

By the power of Facebook, a friend kindly emailed me Appendix C from RT France, Jesus and the Old Testament (London: Tyndale Press, 1971), pp 259-63.

If I have counted correctly, France seems to list 144 quotations, allusions or references to specific OT texts, excluding parallels and not counting general stuff like 'it is written that the Messiah must suffer' etc. in the Synoptic Gospels alone.

France classifies these from A, verbatim quotations with introductory formula to F, possible references without verbal allusion. He admits that some instances are hard to classify.

Sermon Notes / Handout / Outline for a Sermon on 2 Timothy 3:15-17 for Bible Sunday

Look away now if you plan to be at Dallington or Warbleton on Sunday morning.

Bible Sunday 2015 – 2 Timothy 3:15-17 (page 1197)


v15 – ‘holy’, sacred, special, unique – not like any other book

v16 – All ‘God-breathed / Spirited’ – therefore true, authoritative, reliable, trustworthy / infallible / inerrant – reflects God Himself - 2 Peter 1:20-21

The Bible is God’s words to us today - Hebrews 3:7

Jesus’ attitude to the Bible - ‘It is written…’ - Matthew 22:43 - John 10:35

(Wenham, Christ and the Bible; Andrew Wilson, Unbreakable)


(see also e.g. Psalm 19:7-11; Psalm 119:9)

v15 – ‘able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ

The Scriptures bring us to Jesus - John 5:39-40; Luke 24:25-27, 44-47

v16 – ‘all … useful’ – even the less obvious bits!

v16 – teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

v17 – ‘so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work’ – The Sufficiency of Scripture – the Bible tells us all we need to know to be saved and live a godly life – the Bible also encourages us to think, consider creation, listen to Bible teachers & the church etc.  


Pray! Plan! Try different stuff; find what helps you; variety? Slow and fast reading; think about it; reflect; pray; pray again!

The sermon – in so far as it is faithful to the Bible, it is the Word of God - - re-read the passages – discuss

Personal Bible reading, study, memorisation -

Little and often – start with something easier e.g. a gospel;  e.g. a Psalm most days; OT, NT & Ps a day; a regular time may help you (habit)

Notebook and pen

Family / Household Bible times

1 to 1 / small group

Homegroups etc. (Ladies’ group, Good Book Club, Topics Group)

A wealth of resources for all ages - -

A good modern translation (NIV) – different versions – - e.g. ESV (more literal) Study Bible, The Message or Living Bible (paraphrases)

Bible on your mobile phone / tablet / laptop etc.

Audio Bibles – David Suchet – in car, while ironing -

Bible reading notes / study guides / commentaries

Some include the Bible text (e.g. for use on train), some undated

Scripture Union – Daily Bread, Encounter with God

Good Book Company – Explore, Engage, Ichthus File etc.

Bible reading plan / in a year - / record what you read (tick off books to ensure you read the whole over time)

Songs with the text of Scripture – versions of the Psalms -

How To Benefit From The Bible

So, this Sunday (like all Sundays!) is Bible Sunday.

What practical tips / advice would you give on how people can benefit from the Bible? What practices and resources would you recommend?

Pray! Plan! Try different stuff, find what helps you, variety?

The sermon – in so far as it is faithful to the Bible, it is the Word of God - - re-read the passages – discuss

Personal Bible reading, study, memorisation

Little and often – e.g. a Psalm most days; OT, NT & Ps a day

Family / Household Bible times

1 to 1 / small group

Homegroups etc.

A wealth of resources for all ages - -

A good modern translation (NIV) – different versions – - e.g. ESV Study Bible, The Message (paraphrase)

Audio Bibles – David Suchet – in car, while ironing -

Bible reading notes / study guides / commentaries

Some include the Bible text, some undated

Scripture Union

Good Book Company – Explore, Engage, Icthus File etc.

Bible in a year / record what you read - Notebook and pen

Songs with the text of Scripture – versions of the Psalms -

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ordination in the Church of England

The audio of The Revd Nigel Atkinson's talk on Ordination in the Church of England from the Church Society Junior Anglican Evangelical Conference 2015 is available here.

He discusses the necessity, purpose and power of ordination interacting with Calvin, Cranmer, Hooker, Jewel and the Ordinal - oh, and the Bible, of course!

Along the way you get some good stuff on the nature of the church. Hooker argued (against the radical puritans) that the church is not only a supernatural society but also a society, a politic society, a natural body.

Some random jottings of favourite / noteworthy bits:

Calvin argues that ordination goes back to Jesus' appointment of the apostles and is necessary to the existence and continuation of the church as an organised society. If we think the ministry is only of minor importance, Calvin says we plot the ruin and destruction of the church. The ministry is more essential to the continuation of the church than the light of the sun or food and drink.

Hooker says there will be utter confusion if the church depends only on claims to be led by the Spirit and not on customs, traditions and laws. Order and constitution are vital.

Ordination confers real spiritual power - the power to preach the word and administer the sacraments.

Hooker says the church was never from the beginning without a government, a regiment.

The church is primarily led by the preaching of the word and the ministry of the sacraments.

Hooker insists that the church has abolished sacrificing priests and has presbyters (Book 5).

Hooker regarded Bishops as first of all types of (senior) presbyters, as the Apostles were.

Hooker himself received the Supper from a non-episcopally ordained presbyter, Hadrian of Soravia, a Dutchman, on his deathbed.

Hooker is the Reformed theologian of the Church of England.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

One point preaching without notes

One day I might get round to watching some of the sermons at

The blurb for the website says:

"When Jesus preached, crowds flocked to hear him. He was relevant,empathic,insightful and passionate. Lives were changed as a result. How much contemporary preaching has the same impact?

Can 21st century preachers be off-notes AND in control, compassionate AND challenging, exegetically deep AND daringly creative? When I watch these I see the word of God come alive and I’m excited. I hope you feel the same!"

Friday, October 16, 2015

Rural churches and church buildings (CofE)

 "Some 78% of the Church of England’s 15,700 churches are listed. Over 57% of churches are in rural areas, where only 17% of the population lives. 91% of rural churches are listed, compared with 63% in suburban and 55% in urban areas. The Church of England is responsible for around 45% of the grade I listed buildings of England and almost three-quarters of these are in rural areas. "

See also Giles Fraser's article:

"a quarter of rural churches have fewer than 10 people in the pews on a Sunday. Half of them have fewer than 20."

"the C of E is mired in nostalgia ... for a parish pastoral in which the local vicar, who knows everyone, wanders around in some wheel of benevolent aimlessness"

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Some biblical texts relevant to money & giving

For the most part in no particular order and perhaps with some mentioned more than once: (!)

Philippians 4

Mt 13:22

Mt 13:44

Lk 3:11-13

Lk 19:8

Acts 2:45; 4:32-35; 19:19

Mk 12:44

Lk 12:20

Mt 19:21

Ps 119:162

Mt 6:19-21

Mt 6:24

Ephesians 5:5

Prov 23:5

Mt 19:29

Phil 3:7-11

Ps 49:16-20

Job 41:11

Ps 24:1

Hag 2:8

Dt 8:10-18

1 Cor 6:19-20

2 Cor 9:7

2 Cor 8

Ex 36:5-7

1 Chron 29:14

Num 18:24

Gal 6:6

Prov 21:13

Is 58:6-10

Mt 16:27

Rewards in heaven:

Rev 20:6

Mt 25:21, 23

Lk 19:12-19

1 cor 6:3

Eph 6:8

Rm 2:6, 10

Mt 19:21

Mt 10:42

Lk 16:11-12

Phil 4:17

Lk 14:13-14

Heb 11:26

Lk 12:15

Heb 11:13, 16

Phil 3:20

Ecc 5:10-15

1 Tim 4:3-5

1 Timothy 6:6-10

1 Tim 6:17-

Rev 3:14-18

Lev 27:30

Prov 3:9

Mal 3:8-10

Mt 23:23

Heb 7:2-9

Dt 16:10, 16-17

Prov 13:22

Lk 6:38

Gal 6:9

Prov 30:8-9

1 Chron 29:6-9

Acts 20:35

Gen 13:2

Ps 50:9-12

Some principles concerning money and giving

I preached along these lines this morning. The readings were Psalm 49 & 1 Timothy 4:1-5; 6:3-10, 17-19:

(1) God is the maker and owner of all things.

 (2) Everything we own is a trust, given to us as stewards

 (3) Like all created things, money is a good thing

 (4) But money – or indeed poverty – can be a snare

 (5) Money can be a false god that keeps us from God

 (6) Giving is a great antidote to materialism

 (7) God is the great giver

 (8) We give in response to God’s generosity to us

(9) In the Old Covenant, God’s people were commanded to give the first 10% of their income back to him.

DV audio here in due course

See also this from a few years ago: 8 principles of Christian giving from 2 Cor 8-9

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

How much money did he leave?

After his death, someone asked J. D. Rockefeller’s accountant, “How much money did he leave?”

The answer, of course, was all of it!

It always is.

(Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle, p17)

New Peeple people-rating app - Parish Magazine Item

From The Rectory

On the whole, I think there is no doubt that we should regard the internet as a great blessing. And social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) has its uses and can be lots of fun. It helps people stay in touch or be informed. All that’s is good.
But we all know there is a darker side to the internet. Like anything, it can be misused. And the same goes for social media.

You probably will have heard on teenagers being bullied terribly on-line, and sometimes being suicidal as a result. There was a time when someone who was bullied at school might at least be safe at home and close the door on the abuse they face. But today, wherever your smart phone goes, malevolent messages can follow. And once something is posted online, it’s tricky to remove. A quote or an image could potentially be seen by millions all around the world in a few quick clicks. Teenage mistakes are not so easily forgotten in the internet age.  

One especially worrying possible new app which was said by the BBC to be due to launch this month is Peeple. Extending the idea of review sites such as Trip Advisor or Yelp, Peeple, it was reported, will allow users to review people and give them star ratings.

If people are sometimes anxious about how many likes or “friends” they have on Facebook, it’s easy to imagine the distress which such a website might cause. Who wants to receive one star? And I guess some people will be disappointed not to be talked about. Some might prefer negative reviews to being ignored.

The Christian faith offers an increasingly counter cultural view of human worth and dignity. We are created in the image of God – and you can’t get much better than that. Whatever others might think about us, we are thoroughly known and loved by God. Our value does not depend on our performance or achievements, or how we manage to present ourselves in the real or virtual world.

Yet, if we’re honest, we know that there are times when we don’t measure up to our own standards, let alone God’s. None of us could expect a perfect review. It’s a worrying thought to consider how an all-knowing God would rate our integrity, or kindness, or patience, or honesty or …. You could probably fill in the blanks of ways in which you are not the person you know you ought to be.

The good news of the Christian faith is forgiveness and grace – the undeserved love of God which we can’t earn and don’t have to pay for. The Christian life is not about notching up points with God or trying to work our way into his good books. Jesus took the punishment for his people, so that their relationship with a holy God might be restored.

If we put our trust in Christ, we are united to him by faith. His righteousness, his record, his performance, his rating with God his Father, is credited to us. When God looks at a believer, he sees his perfect beloved Son whom he loves. We are counted righteous in him, despite the bad things we’ve done and the good things we’ve failed to do.

The believer in his or her right mind, ought to care above all else what God makes of him or her. He is the one we seek to please. Of course we like to be liked, but the assurance of the love of God can free us from what the Bible would call an insatiable people-pleasing. What others might think of me matters less when I remember that my loving heavenly Father cares for me, warts and all.

but see also

Monday, October 05, 2015

Harvest All Age / Children's Talk / Gimmick

Naturally this is not original: I got it from a clergy colleague, so all thanks to him.

You will need some objects in a bag (one the colour of each of the colours of the rainbow). I used foods. Get people to pull them out, say what they are, hold them up for everyone to see, and try to guess the connection between them.

If no one guesses, get the people with the objects up the front. Put them in rainbow colour order.

The readings we had were:

Genesis 8:15-end - this obviously calls for a reminder of the story so far

2 Peter 3:3-15a, 17-end - this reading is a bit long and complicated but it does allow for a contemporary application and some discussion of what it means today to live in the light of God's judgement and mercy and the hope of the New Creation.

Talk about the meaning of the rainbow according to Genesis 8. God has hung up his war bow.

Every day and all God's good gifts to us are a sign of his mercy and his faithfulness to his promises. The rainbow reminds us of God's kindness but so does everything around us. Life and breathe and food and the world are all good and gracious gifts of God which we don't deserve.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Not a Ponzi scheme

A friend once suggested to me that as evangelicals, we sometimes make the Christian life sound like a Ponzi scheme. It is a warning that has stuck with me. We rightly emphasise the urgency and priority of evangelism and encourage all believers to be involved in it, but we can sometimes give the impression that the only reason for being a Christian is to introduce others to the scheme.

At least two points are worth making:

First, following Jesus means whole life discipleship. It means obeying everything that Jesus has commanded. The Christian life is the continuation of the Cultural Mandate. We are about seeking God’s Kingdom increasingly on earth as it is in heaven. We pray that through the preaching of the gospel in the power of the Spirit we might see the world transformed from one degree of glory to another. We are about faithful disciples, not just willing converts or momentary decisions. We seek first the Kingdom. We want to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbour as ourselves. The vision for the Christian life is far greater and more variegated than simply seeking to sign up others.  

Second, there are many motivations for evangelism, such as concern for the glory of God and obedience to Christ, but building my empire or seeing my church grow for my sake, are not good reasons. Evangelists always need to respect those with whom they share the gospel. Love for others is amongst those things that should compel us to speak. Of course, to tell someone of the rescue which Jesus offers is the most loving thing that we can do. We need to listen as well as speak and show a genuine care for those with whom we seek to share the Good News. Their flourishing is found in Christ. They are made in the image of God and loved by him. We must never treat them as if they are only merely potential proselytes and pew-fillers.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The world's most expensive book

The world's most expensive printed book is the Bay Psalm Book printed in 1640, which sold at a Sotheby’s auction for £8.8 million ($14.2 million) on 26 November 2013.

In the Coronation service, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland presents the monarch with a Bible and calls it “the most valuable thing that this world affords”. Isn’t that striking? The Bible is more precious than crown, and orb, sceptre, fine robes, all the pomp and glory of the coronation – more precious than a whole kingdom, even.

The Psalter itself reflect that view of the words of God:

"The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold"

(Psalm 19vv9-10)

(Thanks to a friend for linking to the Abe Books article on Facebook)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Exodus "Summary" / Some Key Lessons

I have just finished a sermon series of around 30 sermons in the book of Exodus. As I look back on my notes, I realise I still can't spell Pharoh!

For the final sermon I had Exodus 40:1-5, 16-19, 30-end and Revelation 21:1-4, 22-end read and tried to give something of a summary and re-cap of some of the lessons we had learned along the way. No doubt it was very selective and inadequate but just in case it is ever of any interest or use to anyone, here are some jottings:

You remember the background to the book that God had made promises to Abraham

Promises of (1) people (2) land (3) blessing

By the time of Jacob or Israel, those promises had begun to be fulfilled.

Jacob had 12 sons who each had a family, which would become the 12 tribes of Israel.

But in the time of Joseph, of Technicolour dream-coat fame, there had been a famine in the land and Jacob had moved his family to Egypt, where God had already had Joseph appointed Prime Minister!

One of the great lessons of the book of Exodus is that God always keeps his promises.

By v7 of chapter one, God’s promise of making them a great people was well on it’s way to fulfilment:

“the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them”.

They are perhaps not quite as many as the sand on the seashore or the stars in the sky, as God had promised Abraham, but they are no far off!

Pharaoh, of course, has other ideas.

He enslaves and oppresses the people and ruthlessly makes their lives bitter with hard labour (1:10-14).

 But we say how God’s plans are unstoppable.

The more the people were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread. (1v12)

 Pharaoh ordered the midwives to kill the baby boys, and they bravely disobeyed him.

We learnt that God uses ordinary people to fulfil his purposes.

God used Moses sister and mother too, to ensure that Moses was saved.

God even used Pharaoh's daughter.

Remember how Moses’ mum ended up being paid for looking after her own son!

At the end of chapter 2, we saw that God hears his people’s cry.

He remembered the covenant he had made with Abraham.

God looks on his people and is concerned about them.

God means to come to the rescue!

At the burning bush, we saw that God reveals himself.

He wants his people to know him personally, he reveals him name:


I am who I am

God promises his people deliverance and freedom.

He will bring them out by his mighty hand.

Although Pharaoh stubbornly hardens his heart, God’s plan is unstoppable.

 We saw how God acted in salvation and judgement.

 The Passover (ch 12)

The crossing of the red sea (ch 13-14) – salvation and judgement

The people’s sin and God’s gracious provision

Manna & Quails (chapter 16)

Water from the rock (chapter 17)

God gives them his law (chapters 19-23) – The 10 Words (chapter 20)

The order is important:

God saves his people

He tells them how to live in response

God makes his covenant with the people (Ex 24)

The people break the covenant in ch 32, The Golden Calf

God nevertheless has mercy on them for Moses sake

 Moses acts as the mediator / intercessor / God between (Ex 33-34)

 God forgives them for Moses sake

The greatness and glory of God

The awesome holiness of God

The tabernacle

how to build it in ch 25-31

            the actual building of it in ch 35-40

Refrain “just as the LORD had commanded Moses” (39:1, 4, 7, 21, 26, 29, 32, 42) 7x

God is to be worshiped in God’s way

The importance of obedience

The importance of putting God’s word into practice

The Tabernacle a series of no entry signs

Sacrifice - X

The Tabernacle:

  1. God in the midst of his people
  2. God on the move with his people

    The presence of God with his people
    Cloud – cf. Royal Standard above palace – God is in residence, even though he can’t actually be seen

    The climax of the book is the obedient completion of the tabernacle and God’s glorious presence with his people, God guiding them and going with them.
    God’s promise is fulfilled.

    This same glorious God is with us.
    God means to guide us and lead us.
    He means to bring us not to a physical, earthly promised land nation state but to heaven and after that to the new creation.

    The ultimate vision of the book of Revelation:
    God dwelling with his people
    No temple

A hymn worth resurrecting

The other day I sang 'Immortal honors rest on Jesus’ head', which is a good old hymn by William Gadsby I don't know as well as I should. It is worth singing, I reckon. So this is a helpful public service announcement. The meter seems to be
 though that is not really my department. I think we sang it to the tune of 'Abide With Me' which seemed to work well, though you wouldn't want it too dreary! No doubt other good tunes, some of them more upbeat, are available! Happy singing!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Exodus 34 sermon notes

Look away now if you are coming to church in my parishes tomorrow.

It could go something like this? (Love the neat pithy headings, eh?!)

EXODUS 34 (page 93) & 2 CORINTHIANS 3 (p1159)

THE COVENANT RENEWED: The Compassionate God of the Second Chance

A great and important chapter

                The chapter which the OT itself most frequently quotes etc.

Summary of what happens: Through Moses, God re-made his covenant (Ex 24) with his people after they had broken it (Ex 32) (v27)

                2 new stone tablets with the 10 Words (v1)

(vv1-5 like a repeat of chapter 19)

  • Praise God for 2nd (& 3rd & 4th etc.) chances

    The relevance of this for us:

  1. This is our God, the living and true God – and he does not change
  2. The way God deals with us under the New Covenant through Jesus is similar to the way he dealt with his people under the Old Covenant through Moses

    God spoke to Moses, God proclaimed (v5ff) – the Word of God not an image

    God revealed his name / character (v6-7)

  1. Yahweh, Yahweh –The LORD - I am who I am (Ex 3:13-15)
  2. El, God (of power) 
  3. compassionate and gracious
  4. slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness & truthfulness / faithfulness (reliable, trustworthy)
  5. keeping loving kindness to the thousands (generous) – (obviously not nasty Old Testament God and nice New Testament God!)
  6. forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin and surely not leaving it unpunished (seems almost contradictory – How? - it’s the sacrificial system which answers this and ultimately the final sacrifice of Christ, substitutionary atonement)
  7. visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth (generation) – cf. 20:4-6

    Jealous (v14; 20:5) – passionate protective commitment, not the green-eyed monster, not envy – a kind of love (the opposite is indifference)

    Moses is the mediator / intercessor / go-between (v8-9)

  • Moses (and we) may relate to God (argue with him in prayer) on the basis of the Name he has given us to use – how to argue with God!

    God forgives his people (v7, 9) and agrees to go with them despite their sin

    God reiterates his promises of a Land for his people (v11)

  • God calls his people to covenant loyalty (v10ff)

    e.g. obedience (v11), no compromise with other cultures (v12, vv15-16), no idolatry (v13, v17), sacrifice to God (vv19-20), Sabbath (v21), keep the feasts (v22-23), give to God first (v26) 

    Jesus the new and better Moses is the mediator / intercessor of a New and better covenant

    Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for sin by which God can both justly punish wickedness and forgive (The problem of v7 solved. Romans 3:25-26)

    We see the Name and greater Glory of God more fully revealed in Jesus (2 Cor 3:7-11)

  • We are to increasingly reflect the glory of God (as Moses did? – v29ff) as we “look at” Christ (in the Scriptures) – (2 Cor 3:18)

    God renews his New Covenant with you in Christ today! √† Respond in faith and commitment to him as you reflect on Christ (from the Scriptures) with the Spirit’s help

  • Pray that God would make us increasingly faithful to the New Covenant

  •  Give thanks for God’s transforming power in the gospel of Jesus Christ