Saturday, July 30, 2016

Romans 8vv18-27 handout

I have revised this a little for tomorrow. Here it is just in case it is of any interest or use to anyone:

Romans 8vv18-27 – Groaning for Glory

God’s plans for creation and the New Creation (cf. Psalm 8)

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the [future] glory that will be revealed in us” (v18)

In the meantime, while we wait for the New Creation:

(1) Creation groans (vv19-22, esp. v22)

(2) We Christians groan (vv23-25, esp. v23)

(3) The Holy Spirit groans on our behalf (vv26-27, esp. v26)

So what? A guide to godly groaning this side of glory:

è Don’t worry: groaning and suffering are normal and to be expected.

è Don’t settle or despair: groan in this confident and great hope! We wait eagerly (v23) and patiently (v25). The best is yet to come (v18).

è You don’t groan alone: the whole of creation groans and our fellow-Christians groan, but especially look to the Spirit’s expert help!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Groans of Romans 8

You may wish to look away now if you are planning to come to the Marquee service on Rushlake Green at 11am on Sunday 31st July. Of course there's a long time to go and the sermon may well gestate further, but it might go something like this:

Romans 8vv18-27 – Groaning for Glory

(1) Creation groans (v22)

(2) We Christians groan (v23)

(3) The Holy Spirit groans on our behalf (v26)

è Don’t worry: groaning is normal!

è Don’t settle or despair: groan in this confident and great hope!

è You don’t groan alone: look to the Spirit’s help!

Monday, July 18, 2016

How do you imagine heaven?

From a sermon entitled The Spirit Helps Us in Our Weakness preached on 16 Nov 2008, available on the St Ebbe's, Oxford Church website, preached by Vaughan Roberts:

Someone has quipped that heaven is a place where the French are the cooks, the English the policemen, the Germans the engineers, the Italians the lovers and the Swiss have organised it all.

Hell, on the other hand, is a place where the English the cooks, the French the engineers, the Germans the police, the Swiss are the lovers and the Italians organise it all.

George Bernard Shaw once said: “Heaven, as conventionally conceived, is a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable that nobody has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty of people have described a day at the seaside.”

Christian Suffering

I am preparing to preach on Romans 8:18-27 at our annual all-age marquee service.

In a sermon entitled The Spirit Helps Us in Our Weakness preached on 16 Nov 2008, available on the St Ebbe's, Oxford Church website, Vaughan Roberts concludes with 4 truths about Christian suffering:

(1) Suffering can’t be avoided (v17-18) – we don’t seek it but we expect it
(2) It’s under control (v20) – suffering is part of God’s plan and he is sovereign over it. (God has a purpose in it).
(3) It won’t go on for ever (v18) – look to the future with confident hope
(4) We don’t have to face it alone (v26) – the Spirit helps us in our weakness

Monday, July 11, 2016


From The Rectory

As I write, I think it would be fair to say that our national life has been in a degree of turmoil over the last few weeks. The News is undoubtedly the most exciting and unpredictable programme on our TV screens at the moment.

The EU Referendum result surprised many, and some who voted for Brexit are allegedly experiencing buyer’s remorse. There have been calls for another vote from those who don’t like the outcome. Even those who campaigned to leave the EU would admit that, at least in the short term, negotiating our separation from Brussels makes for a more uncertain world. The value of the Pound and of the FTSE have reflected doubts about the future.

Very quickly after the result, and contrary to his previous assurances, David Cameron announced that he would be stepping down as Prime Minister. George Osborne and Boris Johnson, who once seemed the favourites to succeed to No. 10, didn’t even make it to the ballot paper. Only today the surprise candidate, Andrea Leadsom, has withdrawn from the contest.

The parliamentary Labour Party too is in disarray. 172 Labour MPs voted that they have no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Eagle has today announced that she will be standing against him.

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, and Roy Hodgson, England football manager, have also resigned. Even Chris Evans has quit Top Gear. Few would have foreseen the success of Iceland or of Wales in the Euros and Wimbledon was not without its surprises as number 1 seeded Novak Djokovic was knocked out by Sam Querrey, who was ranked 41st.  

And who knows what else will have changed by the time you read this? One thing we know for certain about the future is that it is uncertain.

Amidst all this flux, it is worth us taking a few moments to remind ourselves of some constants. There is solid ground on which we can build our lives.

The Bible describes God as eternal. He is the creator and Lord of time and is unchanging. He is faithful to all his promises and entirely reliable in his goodness and love. His covenant commitment to his people is unshakable. God will never let us down.

The Scriptures tell us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has promised to be with his people always even to the end of the age. He has said that he will not leave us as orphans. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we can know his protection and guidance whatever we face. Although the future is uncertain, we do not face it alone. Nothing can snatch Jesus’ people from his hand.

Christian faith, then, is like an anchor for the soul in an uncertain world. Because of Jesus’ death for us, we can be sure of God’s love for us and of the forgiveness of sins. The resurrection is the guarantee of our acceptance with God and of eternal life to come.

Although we do not understand all his purposes, Jesus knows and governs all things. Whatever happens we can be sure that Jesus is on the throne of the universe, and that he, at least, is not about to resign.

Christ and his people

I’m planning to be a little more systematic about the opening devotions at PCC meetings for the next eight meetings.

As our opening thought from the Bible, I’m going to draw each time on one of the chapters from a little book by Mark Ashton entitled Christ and His People: Eight Convictions about the Local Church (Christian Focus Publications, 2016). 68pp ISBN 978 1 78191 829 6

I hope you’ll read along with me.

Mark Ashton was the Vicar of The Round Church / St Andrew The Great (STAG) in Cambridge until 2010. This book was written in the final months of his life, before he died of cancer. It originally appeared as a chapter in Persistently Preaching Christ: Fifty Years of Bible Ministry in a Cambridge Church (Christian Focus).

The book is highly personal. Mark tells many stories about his predecessor, Mark Rushton.

A large student church in Cambridge is of course not entirely typical and the context is quite different from ours.

You may not agree with everything Mark says, or you might not have put it quite like that, but I hope you’ll find the book stimulating and thought provoking.

Mark says: “These eight convictions are not intended to be an exhaustive account of how a church should run, but they are distinctive characteristics of the ministry of this particular church, and I dare to think they are sufficiently normative (as well as normal) that they may be a help to others.”

The convictions are:

 1. Bible: The word of God does the work of God through the Spirit of God in the people of God.

2. Local Church: The local church is the primary place where the Kingdom of Heaven impacts the kingdoms of this world.

3. Expository Preaching: Consecutive expository preaching by the pastor-teacher is the best normal diet of the local church.

4. Meetings: The meetings of the local church are for both edification and evangelism (with no sharp distinction between these).

5. Ministers: The ministers of the local church are all its members.

6. Focus: The local church should focus on doing a few things really well.

 7. Sacrifice: The local church exists for the sake of others.

8. Prayer: Prayer lies at the heart of the local church.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Romans 5:12-21 handout

Romans 5:12-21 (p1132) – The Trespass & The Gift

Alternative sermon from 22nd Feb 2015 at:

Spot the difference – compare & contrast:

Similarity: 2 men who determine the whole of human history (vv18-19)

2 very different actions, results, destinies (vv15-16)

V12 – What is the “therefore” there for? – link to the argument so far

Implicit question: How is it that the death of (the one man) Jesus can effect the justification and reconciliation of all who trust in him?

(1) THE TRESPASS: Adam’s sin brought death and condemnation to all

Paul assumes that Adam was a literal historical individual

One sin made many sinners (v19) and lead to many sins (v12, v16)

A challenge to our individualism and supposed autonomy

The universal reign of death (vv12, 14-15, 17, 21; Gen 2:17; Rom 6:23)

The role of the Old Testament law: the law defined and magnified sin (vv13, 20)

(2) THE GIFT: Christ’s obedience brings life and righteousness to many

God’s more abundant overflowing grace (v15, 17)

Christ’s saving work can deal with many trespasses (v16)

So what? Receive the gift – trust in Christ – and 6v1-2, 11-14

(See also – You are one with Adam; will you be one with Jesus Christ?)

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Romans 5vv1-11

You may wish to look away now if you are planning to be at Warbleton parish church tomorrow:

Romans 5vv1-11 (page 1132)

Since we have been justified through faith in Jesus (vv1, 9) …

grace (v2)

3 Things the Christian Believer

Can & Should Rejoice In:

(1)  in the hope of the glory of God (v2)


(a) God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (v5)

(b) Christ died for us sinners (vv6-8)

(c) God has forgiven us and made us his friends and will certainly save us (vv9-11)

(2) in suffering (vv3-4)


suffering à perseverance à character à hope

 (3) in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received reconciliation (v11)