What does God’s Word have to say to us? (some sermons)

Sermon on John 11:1-57

The story of the raising of Lazarus has a great deal to teach us. A good starting-point might be the name, “Lazarus.” It means “God is my help” or “God helps.” Isn’t that a great starting-point? It reminds us that God is our Help. It reminds us that God helps us. He helps us to believe in Jesus Christ, our Saviour. He helps us to believe that Jesus Christ is “the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25).
Fairly early in the story of Lazarus, we hear Jesus saying, “Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe” (John 11:14-15). The raising of Lazarus was a great miracle. Why did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead? Why did Jesus perform this great miracle? He raised Lazarus so that the disciples might believe. Jesus was not only concerned for Lazarus’ welfare. He was also seeking to increase the faith of His disciples. We may take this a step further. Jesus did not raise Lazarus from the dead only for the benefit of those who were with Him on that day. He is here with us and, through the story of the raising of Lazarus, He aims to strengthen our faith.
How does Jesus strengthen our faith? He directs our attention to Himself. He is not only the One who raised Lazarus all thes years ago. He is also the Saviour of all who put their trust in Him. Jesus directs our attention to Himself, in John 11:25, when He says, “I am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in Me, though He die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
Let’s look at the story of the raising of Lazarus and see what it teaches us concerning believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s see what it teaches us concerning the resurrection life which He gives to all who trust Him.
Here’s the first lesson. By ourselves, we cannot believe. It is only through the mighty power of the Lord that we are brought to faith in Christ. This point may be illustrated from the story of Lazarus. Before Jesus came along, the situation could be summed up in three chilling words: “Lazarus is dead” (John 11:14). It was only when Jesus spoke the life-giving Word that Lazarus was raised from the dead: “Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The dead man came out” (John 11:43-44). This miracle of the raising of Lazarus is an excellent illustration of the way in which we are brought to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from Christ, we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Through Christ’s Word of resurrection power, we are “raised” to “newness of life” (Romans 6:4). This miracle of being raised to newness of life has been described very well by Charles Wesley: “He speaks, and listening to His voice, new life the dead receive.”
Here’s a second lesson. Faith, if it is to make a a real difference in our lives, must be faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Before Jesus came, “many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother” (John 11:19). There are many today who will be quick to tell us what they think. They will rush with their offer of help. When we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), our need will not be met by any and every well-wisher who comes along with a word of advice. Our need will only be met by the One who is able to meet our need – Jesus Christ, “the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25). Jesus Christ is able to raise us to newness of life because He Himself is the risen Lord. He is able to give us life because He is the living Saviour. If we are to have a sure hope for time and eternity, our faith must be firmly based on the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ: “I am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in Me … shall … live” (John 11:25).
A third lesson concerns serving God in the power of the risen Christ. We are not called to faith in Christ for our own benefit only. We are to serve the Lord. If we are to serve Christ in the power of His resurrection, we must do so on the basis of our new relationship with the Father. In John 11:27, we learn that Jesus is “Christ, the Son of God.” Through faith in Christ, we become sons and daughters of the living God. He is our Father, and we are His children. As children of the living God, we dare not imagine that we can serve the Lord in our own strength. Jesus did not do God’s work in mere human strength. Before doing this mighty miracle, Jesus spoke to His Father – “And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father … ” (John 11:41), If we are to be true followers of Jesus, we must follow Him in prayer. We cannot truly serve the Lord if we do not seek His blessing in prayer. It has been said that “Prayer is evangelism with all its carnal trappings shorn off.” If our so-called ‘Christian service’ is not grounded in prayer, it is not really Christian service at all. The Lord’s work is to be done in the Lord’s power. If it is not done in the Lord’s power, it will be done without the Lord’s blessing. When we look at Jesus’ prayer, we see that He begins with thanksgiving. Jesus remembered the feeding of the five thousand. On that occasion, Jesus had prayed, and the Father had answered prayer (John 6:11). Now, Jesus was saying to the Father: “I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me” (John 11:41). Now, in this situation, Jesus re-affirms His faith in the Father, the God who hears and answers prayer – “Thou hearest Me always” (John 11:42). The miracle of the raising of Lazarus was an answer to prayer. The blessings for which we long – men and women coming to faith in Christ – will also come to us as answers to prayer. Jesus prayed that “they may believe that Thou didst send me” (John 11:42). Jesus prayed for men and women to come to faith in Him. The Father answered His prayer. Can we doubt that God will also answer our prayers? Jesus has said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in Me … shall … live” (John 11:25). Let us pray, in faith, that men and women will come to believe in Jesus and find life in Him.
A final lesson concerns the fulfilment of our faith. The faith into which we come when we are raised to newness of life is a faith, filled with hope, the hope of heavenly and eternal glory, the hope of “rising again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24). This hope is not something which remains distant and remote from our everyday life. It is the “resurrection at the last day” which inspires us to serve the Lord here on earth. We pray and work to the end that many more people will come to have this testimony: “Now, I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me, not for the years of time alone, but for eternity.”
This is the testimony of all who have come to know Jesus Christ as “the Resurrection and the Life.” It is the testimony of all who have received His resurrection life.
What about you? Do you have this testimony?

Sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

There is hope. This is a message which is very relevant in today’s world. We hear of death and destruction. We ask the question, “Is there hope?” This question impresses itself upon us as we take seriously the events of our day. “Is there hope?” As we consider this question, we may find that we have more questions than answers. It is so important that we ask our questions in the right way. Many people ask questions, but they never expect an answer. We must ask the right Person, the Person who has the Answer. We must bring our questions to God.
Many people do not bring their questions to God, because they do not believe that there is a God. They think that it is clever to disregard God. God’s Word tells us that it is foolish to say that there is no God: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm 14:1). Many people believe that there is no hope, because they believe that there is no God. There are others who claim to believe in God, but it is perfectly clear that their “belief” in God doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference to the way they live their lives.
What are we to make of all this? What are we to do with the questions which arise in our hearts and minds? Are we to follow the way of those who have made up their minds already, those who say that there is no answer, because they say, “There is no God”? Are we to join the ranks of those who pay lip-service to God, yet persist in pushing Him out to the edge of their lives where He becomes completely irrelevant? Should we not, rather, look to the Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus has given a great promise to all who are asking questions: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). In fact, we may go further than this. Jesus does not only give the answer. Jesus is the Answer. Christ is the Answer for the world today.
Critics of the Christian Faith will immediately say, “How can Christ be the answer for the world today? He lived such a long time ago. He must be out of date now.” This kind of talk may sound impressive, but it leaves out one thing: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. If there is any one fact of history, which convinces us that there is a God, it is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If there is any one fact of history, which convinces us that there is hope, it is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. People speak about the great events of world history, but there is no greater event than this – the mighty resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Why do we say, “There is hope”? – We say that there is hope because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Death could not hold our Saviour. He broke the power of death. This is the great declaration of the Christian Gospel. Is there hope? Yes. Jesus Christ is our Hope.
Have you ever picked up a book and looked at the last page to see how the story ends? I’m sure most of us have done this at some time. Curiousity gets the better of us. When we read the story told by the Gospels, seeing Jesus being persecuted by His enemies, isn’t it great that we’re able to look ahead to the end of the Story and see Jesus Christ, risen from the dead?
When we hear of wars and rumours of wars, when we hear of nations rising up against nations, isn’t it great to be able to have this assurance that Jesus is Lord, the assurance that there will come a Day when every knee will bow before Jesus Christ and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord? The resurrection of Jesus Christ assures us that the victory belongs to Christ. The resurrection assures us that all who belong to Christ, will, through faith in Him, share in His victory.
With such a resurrection faith, we can truly say, “There is hope.” This hope is not just a matter of being naturally optimistic – the eternal optimist. Real hope is hope in Christ, the risen Lord, the living Saviour, who is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Christian hope is not a matter of saying, “I hope so, but I don’t really think so.” Through Christ, we have a Hope , which is firm and secure, because it is based, not on our constantly changing emotions, but on Christ, whose love never changes.
There is hope, because there is a Saviour – Jesus Christ, our risen and living Lord. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we have a resurrection faith, a faith which enables us to look at life with new eyes – the eyes of hope. We look back to the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and what do we see? – Hope. We look forward to the coming resurrection, and we are able to sing, with great joy, “When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other side, and the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there. On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise, and the glory of His resurrection share, when His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies, and the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”
Here and now, we live in the power of His resurrection, not defeated by circumstances but victorious through Christ. With a Saviour such as Jesus Christ, surely we can say nothing other than this, “There is hope.”

Sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

1 Corinthians 15, the great “resurrection” chapter, challenges us to think big thoughts – big thoughts about God, big thoughts about Jesus Christ, big thoughts about ourselves. The word, “resurrection”, is not a word which figures much in the thoughts of many people in our day. There are many people who profess to have faith in God, but their “God” is not the living God. Their “God” is not the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Their “God” is not the God who is able to transform human life by His mighty power. There are plenty of people who feel an attraction for Jesus Christ – the good man, Jesus Christ – the moral teacher, Jesus Christ – the great example, but they know nothing of Christ’s saving power. What are we to say to those for whom Jesus is no more than a figure from ancient history? If we take seriously the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, we have a glorious message to proclaim, a message of hope, a joyful message, Good News.
* God is not a “God” who keeps His distance. God is the God who comes near to us in Jesus Christ.
* God is not a “God” who keeps His silence. God is the God who speaks to us through Jesus Christ.
Once we have looked in faith to Jesus Christ, we can no longer see God simply as the “God” who is “away up there” in heaven. He is the living God, our God, the God of our salvation. Once we have really looked at Jesus Christ, we can no longer think of Him as merely a dim and dusty figure from the far distant past. Jesus, the risen Lord, is standing among us now. He is working within us. He is changing the way we see ourselves, the way we look at our lives – “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
Without faith in Jesus Christ, the things of this world loom very large on our horizon. Without Jesus Christ, we have nothing to look forward to: no heavenly glory – only the things which pass away. Such a life is life without hope, and life without hope is misery: “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). A “Christ”, who does not give us hope for the world to come, is a “Christ” who makes us miserable. We look for more than such a “Christ” is able to give to us. This, however, is not the Christ of the New Testament. He is the risen Christ, the living Saviour, who gives eternal life to all who put their trust in Him. What is this “eternal life”, Christ’s gift to the believer?
* First, it is a life which is  based on Christ’s resurrection.
* Second, it is a life which results in our glorious resurrection.
When the worldly man thinks of Christ’s resurrection, he says, “Impossible! Dead men don’t come back again!”
When the New Testament speaks of Christ’s resurrection, the word, “impossible”, is heard again. This time, however, it is a very different “impossibility.” No longer are we speaking of the impossibility of Jesus Christ rising from the dead. here, we are speaking of the impossibility of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, remaining dead. This is the impossibility of which the New Testament speaks. It was impossible that Jesus Christ, our Saviour, could have remained in the tomb/ When men of unbelief hold their hands up in horror and say, “Impossible!”, we must remember who Jesus Christ is – the Son of God, our Saviour, and we must rejoice in the fact of His resurrection: “God raised Him up … because it was not possible for Him to be held by it” (Acts 2:24).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basis for our hope of eternal life. Without Christ’s return to life, there is no eternal life for us. With Christ’s resurrection, there is hope – the joyful hope of eternal glory.
The glory which Christ brings into our lives is a glory which transforms our lives here and now, a glory which grows in us as we go on with the Lord, and a glory which will be seen in all its fullness at our glorious resurrection.
When the New Testament speaks of heavenly glory, it does not mean to play down the glorious privilege of living for Christ here and now. the Apostle Paul puts it this way: “For me, to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
To die is gain – that will be heavenly glory.
To live is Christ – this is our glorious privilege.
“When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way!”
This glory grows as we go on with the Lord. Here is a great description of growing in Christ: “we all … beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Our ever-deepening experience of the glory of the Lord will reach its fullness in the world to come. We rejoice that Christ lives in us now. Our joy will be deeper and fuller when we are with Him in heavenly glory (Colossians 1:27): “we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).
This hope will become a glorious reality. Then, we will have fullness of joy.

Sermon on John 10:1-42

What does it mean to have eternal life? There are two important dimensions in eternal life. There is life after death and there is life before death. There are a great many people who never give any thought to an after-life. The question, “Is there life after death?” rarely crosses their mind. they are content to live from day to day, taking each day as it comes. These people are, however, interested in another question: Is there life before death? When they hear of Jesus Christ, they ask, “Can He change my life here and now? Can He make a difference in my life right now?
The Gospel answer to that question is an emphatic “Yes”. Jesus Christ does not only give us heaven. He give us new life here and now.
The two sides of the life which Christ gives to us must be emphasized.
There is life before death. Jesus calls this: “abundant life” (John 10:10).
There is life after death. Here, Jesus speaks of “everlasting life” (John 3:16, Authorized Version).
Eternal life has a beginning, but it has no end. It begins when we come in faith to Jesus Christ to receive from Him the new life which He alone can give, the abundant life which is far better than life without Christ. Without Christ, life is empty. In Christ, there is abundant life. Apart from Christ, we have mere existence, just going on from day to day with no real sense of meaning, purpose and direction. With Christ, everything is different.
This great change is well described in the words of the hymn: “What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart!” Jesus makes a difference here and now. He also gives us a life which has no end. This is also emphasized in this hymn: “I’m possessed of a hope that is steadfast and sure, since Jesus came into my heart!”
These are the two dimensions of eternal life. It is life with a new quality. It is life with an everlasting duration.
When we think of the abundant quality of eternal life, we can testify with the hymnwriter: “All that thrills my soul is Jesus; He is more than life to me.”
When we think of the everlasting duration of eternal life, we rejoice in these words from the hymn, “Amazing grace”: “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”
When we read the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 10:28 – “I give them eternal life”, our hearts are filled with joy – the joy of the Lord.
When we read the rest of the verse, our hearts are filled with even greater joy: “they shall never perish.” These are great words!
The truth of Jesus’ promise is presented very effectively in a Gospel song: “He didn’t bring us this far to leave us. He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn’t build His home in us to move away. He didn’t lift us up to let us down.”
When we read the words, “they shall never perish”, we may be painfully aware of the many temptations which we face. we are aware of the Lord’s presence, but we are also aware of the activity of Satan. He is always seeking to snatch us out of the Lord’s hands.
What does Jesus say to us about Satan? – “No one (not even Satan himself) shall snatch you out of My hand.”
Years ago, on a mission in Brodick, on the island of Arran, I heard an interesting song, the words of which have remained in my mind: “Why do Christians never turn back? They could, if they desired. Or, could it be that Christians are permanently fired with a love for a life they’ve found to be so real? They’ve found the perfect living in a God who is ideal for today.”
Jesus has given us abundant life. When we are tempted to turn back from following Jesus, we find, in our hearts, an echo of the words of Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go?You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Through faith in Jesus Christ, we look forward to life after death. Our sense of expectation is greatly increased by the marvellous fact that we have received life before death: “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine: O what a foretaste of glory divine!”
Abundant life, here on earth, is a foretatse of life, in heavenly glory, with the Lord. We are not in heaven yet, but we have been heaven in our hearts, because we have Jesus in our hearts: “Heaven came down, and glory filled my soul, when, at the cross, the Saviour made me whole. My sins were washed away, and my night was turned to day. Heaven came down, and glory filled my soul.” It is a wonderful thing to know that eternal life has begun. It is an even more wonderful thing to know that it shall never end.
Many Christians have come to faith in Christ through a little booklet entitled, “Journey into Life.” This is a good description of what it means to become a Christian. Becoming a Christian means beginning a journey into life. this journey is a never-ending journey. The life, which Christ gives, is not only abundant life. It is also everlasting life.
Have you begun the journey into life?
If not, you can begin, today, your own personal journey into life. Let Jesus Christ lead you into this journey into life.

As we go into the world, let us pray that the fruit of the Spirit will be seen in us.

Those who love the Lord are called to a life of obedience – keeping His ‘commandments’, keeping His ‘Word’ (John 14:21, 23).

We cannot live this life in our own strength. Christ must make His home in us (John 14:23).

Once He has come to live in us, we are to abide in Him (John 15:4).

Jesus says to us, ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5).

You cannot live the Christian life until Christ comes to live in you.

‘The Holy Spirit teaches us all things’ (John 14:26). Christ’s ‘words’ abide in us (John 15:7).

We are called to a life of fruitfulness (John 15:5, 15) – ‘the fruit of the Spirit’: ‘love, joy, peace…’ (Galatians 5:22-23).

Jesus loves us (John 14:21). He gives us His peace (John 14:27). He gives us His joy (John 15:11).

Love, Joy, Peace: Let this ‘fruit’ be seen in us. Let it be shared with others. ‘Love one another… Go and bear fruit… love one another’ (John 15:12, 16-17).

The world is preoccupied with outward appearances. As Christians, we should be more concerned with our inward attitude. ‘In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord’. Pray for His ‘attitude’ – ‘a tender heart and a humble mind’ (1 Peter 3:8, 15; 4:1).

We believe the Gospel – ‘Christ died for our sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God’. Let’s share the Gospel – ‘Be always ready to give…a reason for the hope that is in you’.

How are we to share the Gospel? – ‘with gentleness and respect’(1 Peter 3:18, 15).

We must get the attitude right – ‘so that nothing will hinder our prayers’ (1 Peter 3:7).

We need more than the ‘right’ prayers – words that sound good. We need the right attitude. The blessing will not come because our words sound good. It will only come when our attitude is right.

In our worship, let us give all the glory to the Lord.

‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your Name be the glory because of Your love and faithfulness’ (Psalm 115:1).

God loves us. He loves us with a faithful love, ‘an everlasting love’, a ‘love that will not let us go’. His love ‘never comes to an end’. Nothing can separate us from His love (Jeremiah 31:3; Lamentations 3:22-23; Romans 8:38-39; Church Hymnary, 677). What have we done to deserve such love? Absolutely nothing! We are ‘sinners’. We do not deserve to be loved by God. We have done nothing to earn His love. Love begins with God. It comes from Him.

How do we know that He loves us? Have we proved ourselves worthy of His love? No! – ‘God shows His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’. ‘To God be the glory!’ (Romans 5:8; Church Hymnary, 374).

In our worship, let us pray the glory of the Lord will fill His Church.

This is not only about the glory of the Temple. It’s about ‘the glory of the God of Israel’. This is the greater glory – ‘the glory of the Lord filled the Temple’ (Ezekiel 43:1, 5).

God is not only concerned about the creation of a beautiful place of worship. He wants our lives to be ‘radiant with His glory’. This happens when ‘the Spirit lifts us up’ and brings us close to God – ‘into the inner court’ (Ezekiel 43:2, 5).

We pray that the glory of the Lord will fill the place of worship: ‘May the fragrance of Jesus fill this place.’ We pray that ‘the glory of Jesus’ will ‘fill His Church’. We are not only praying for God’s glory in the place of worship. We are praying for His glory in our lives: ‘May the beauty of Jesus fill my life… Fill my thoughts, my words, my deeds’ (Mission Praise, 46).

In our worship, we hear the Story of God’s salvation.

‘Come and see what God has done’ (Psalm 66:5).

God invites us to look into His Word, to read His Story, the Story of all that He has done for us.

‘Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for me’ (Psalm 66:16).

God invites us to listen to the preaching of His Word, to let His Story become our story, to let His salvation become real in our lives.

We read God’s Word. We hear His Word.

This is our journey of discovery. We discover what the Lord has done for us. We discover how much He wants to bless us.

He waits to hear our prayer – ‘May God be gracious to us and bless us…’ He answers our prayer – ‘God has blessed us’ (Psalm 67:1, 6-7).

He wants us to ‘be glad and sing for joy’. He wants us to call ‘all the ends of the earth’ to ‘worship Him’ (Psalm 67:4, 7).

In our worship, we listen to the Word of the Lord.

Notice the importance of the Scriptures for both public ministry – ‘reasoning with them from the Scriptures’ and private devotion – ‘examining the Scriptures every day’ (Acts 17:2, 11).

We need the Word of the Lord on the Lord’s Day. We need the Word of the Lord every day.

God is not the ‘unknown God’. He has made himself known to us.

For many, He seems to be the ‘unknown God’. We must seek to lead them beyond a vague awareness of ‘the God who made the world’ to a real knowledge of Jesus Christ who died and rose again for our salvation (Acts 17:24, 3).

When our faith is grounded in the Scriptures, we will not think of God as the ‘unknown God’ about whom we can know very little. We will make it our ambition ‘to know Christ and the power of His resurrection’ (Philippians 3:10).

‘Let us press on to know the Lord’(Hosea 6:3).

Sermon on 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13

In 1979, I visited a church in the USA, where the members of the congregation greeted each other with these words: “God loves you, and I love you.” A year later, after my return to Scotland, I heard a song with the words: “God loves you, and I love you, and that’s the way it should be.” The love of God is not merely words which we speak. The love of God is to be seen in the lives which we lead.

“God loves you, and I love you.” “God loves you, and I love you, and that’s the way it should be.” these words have stuck with me over the course of the years. When I conduct a wedding, I read the words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and 1 Corinthians 13:13. I give the couple a motto to carry with them into their married life: “God loves you, and I love you.” I emphasize that human love is founded on divine love. Our love for each other is based on God’s love for each of us. I stress to them that there are times, in every marriage, when you become painfully of your partner’s weaknesses, times when you are very disappointed in your partner. At such times, it is difficult to share your love with your partner. These are the times when we must remember the love of God. When you find it difficult to love your partner, remember God’s love for you. God sees your weaknesses as well as your strengths. He sees your bad points as well as your good points. He knows all about your faults and failings, yet He continues to love you. When you think of such love, you will find it so much easier to share your love with your partner. The words, “I love you”, will come to mean so much more when both husband and wife are seeking to build upon the love of God. This is the advice that I give to newly married couples; Build your human love on divine love. Build your love for each other on the love of God for both of you.

Our theme is not marriage. It is discipleship. In the Church, we are to live as disciples of Jesus Christ. In the world, we are to live as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we consider the life of discipleship, we must learn to think of it as a life of love. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Sharing our love within the context of marriage is, for some of us, a part of life. Sharing our love as disciples of Jesus – this is something we are all called to do. Living as disciples of Jesus means more than just saying the right words. It means living the right way. It means letting the love of Christ fill our lives. His love is to shape our attitudes. His love is to inspire our actions.

The importance of having love in all that we do is emphasized in a modern song, entitled, “Witness”: “I witnessed to a man today. I witnessed to his wife. I told them ’bout the way and I told them ’bout the life. I told them that they needed to surrender to the Lord. I told them ’bout the power of His double-edged sword. I witnessed to a drunkard outside a tenement. I told him he was shameful and he needed to repent. I witnessed to a blind men beggin’ money on the street. I put a tract into his cup and did not miss a beat. I passed out all the tracts with all the Scripture underlined. I handed one to each and every one that I could find. I’d shove one in their hands and I’d walk on to the next. I must have reached a hundred souls with my salvation text. I gave out little Bibles, with the Gospel of St. John, into a hundred hands before my Bibles were all gone. I told each one I met the words of John3 verse 16, and sandwiched in a little bit of Matthew in between. I finished out the day and yet I was not satisfied. And, on my way back home, it hit me, and I almost cried. I’d given them the message and I’d given them a little shove, but I’d missed the most important thing. I had not given love.” (from Chuck Girard’s album, “The Stand).

All that we do may sound very impressive, but, without love, it is nothing – nothing at all. Living as a disciple of Jesus does not mean being a “Bible-thumper.” It means loving Jesus and loving other with the love of Jesus. We are not called to hit people with a book. We are to love them with the love of Jesus. We are not to bombard them with words. We are to show them the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Words have their place, but we must practise what we preach. In our everyday life, we must live out the love of Christ. Love – this is what really makes the difference. Love – this is what really draws men and women to Jesus Christ.

A well-known atheist, Nietzsche, once said, “His disciples will have to look more saved if I am to believe in their Saviour.” This is very challenging. The only “Bible” many people ever read is the “Bible” of our lives. They never read the Bible we carry with us to Church, but they watch how we live our lives. They watch like a hawk, and they make up their minds about Christianity on the basis of what they see in Christians. A Marxist writer, Machovec, has pointed out that “critics practically never reproach Christians for being followers of Christ, but … for not being such” (A Marxist Looks At Jesus, cited in H. Kung, On Being a Christian, p. 558).

1 Corinthians 13 is the most well-known Bible passage on the theme of Christian love. When we read 1 Corinthians 13, it is most important that we understand that true Christian love is not something which comes naturally to us. true Christian love is nothing less than the love of God: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). True Christian love is not something which arises from deep within our own hearts. It is the love of God which has been poured into our hearts by God Himself. True Christian love grows in us as we allow our lives to be brought under the control of Jesus Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:14, the Apostle Paul wrote, “The love of Christ controls us. The love of Christ constrains us.”

The life, filled with Christian love, is the life which is controlled by the love of Jesus Christ. The life which is controlled by the love of Christ will be a life of service, a life constrained by the love of Christ – constrained to reach out to others with His love.

When our lives are controlled by the love of Christ, there will be both love for God and love for our neighbour – not one without the other, but both together. We will offer praise and worship to God. We will give ourselves in the service of needy mean and women. Through our words and actions, we are to show the love of Christ. We cannot be content with words only, for words without actions are dead.

Let us live for Christ. Let us speak for Christ. Let us pray that the love of Christ will shine brightly in our lives, as a light which draws men and women to the Saviour.

Sermon on John 9:1-41

At the heart of the ninth chapter of John’s Gospel, there is a testimony. It is a very short testimony. It is contained in a single verse – John 9:25. “One thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.” This is an extremely powerful testimony. These few words strike a chord in the heart of the believer. “I once was blind, but now I see.” This is the testimony of all those whose lives have been touched by the love of Christ. When our lives are touched by the loving hand of the Lord Jesus Christ, our hearts rise to Him in worship: “When I feel the touch of Your hand upon my life, it causes me to sing a song that I love You, Lord.” When the “amazing grace” of the Lord Jesus Christ takes hold of our lives, we begin a new life that is filled with love for Jesus.

When the man spoke these words – “I once was blind, but now I see”, this was not the end of the story for him. This was the beginning of his new life. The new life would grow and develop. When we give our testimony, it is not simply a description of the way in which we began the Christian life. It is a testimony concerning all that the Lord has done for us since that day when we trusted Christ as our Saviour. We have been saved by the grace of God. We are being kept by the power of God. When we give our testimony, we praise God for bringing us to faith in Jesus Christ, and we praise Him for keeping us in the faith of Jesus Christ.

What is the new life that the Lord Jesus Christ has given to us? – (i) It is a life of love; (ii) It is a life centred on Jesus: (iii) It is a life of wholeness; (iv) It is a life of mission.

(i) A life of love

There’s a Gospel song , which contains these fine words: “Love lifted me. When no-one but Christ could help, love lifted me.” This is the believer’s testimony – “Love lifted me.” What no-one else could do, Christ has done for us. He alone is able to lift us out of our sin, because He alone is our Saviour. Only Christ can give us new life, since He alone is the risen and living Lord.

Later on, in this Gospel song, we find the words: “Jesus completely saves. He will lift you by His love.” This is the believer’s message. When we have been lifted by the love of Christ, we have more than a personal testimony. We have a message to share with others. We give our testimony, “Love lifted me”, and we say to others, “He will lift you by His love.”

This is precisely what the healed man did . In John 9:25, he gave his personal testimony. In John 9:27, he invited his critics to follow Jesus – “Do you too want to become His disciples?” Here is a model for us to follow. We have become disciples. We must now seek to make disciples. In love, Christ has drawn us to Himself. In love, He uses us to reach out to others.

(ii) A life centred on Jesus

When the blind man was asked, “How were your eyes opened?” (John 9:10), he began his answer with the words, “The Man called Jesus” (John 9:11). Jesus was at the centre of the man’s life. The Christian life is a life of looking to Jesus, a life of seeing Jesus. When we say, “I once was blind, but now I see”, what we are really saying is this: “Now, I’m looking to Jesus. Now, my eyes are fixed on Him.” Once our eyes have been opened to see Jesus, we must keep on praying, “Open our eyes, Lord. We want to see Jesus.”

The more we see Jesus, the more He will rise in our estimation, the more He will be exalted in our eyes. We see this in the case of the healed man. In John 9:11, he speaks of “the Man called Jesus.” In John 9:17, he says, “He is a prophet.” In John 9:35-38, he confesses his faith in Jesus Christ as “the Son of God” (Authorized Version) or “the Son of man” (Revised Standard Version). The expression, “the Son of man”, should not be seen as a weakening of our faith in Christ as the Son of God. Notice what Jesus says, in other places, about “the Son of man”- “The Son of man must be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15); “The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He is killed, after three days, He will rise” (Mark 9:31); “They will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

Is Jesus becoming more and more precious to you? Is He coming to mean more and more to you? True Christian growth is marked by a growing love for Jesus.

(iii) A Life of Wholeness

When the blind man received his sight, he received wholeness. Until that day, his life was incomplete. He could not see. When Jesus touches our lives, He makes us whole. Closely connected with the word, “wholeness”, is the word, “holiness.” There is no wholeness without holiness. Our lives are incomplete if we are not walking in the way of holiness. There’s a children’s chorus which says, “I’m walking on the King’s Highway.” What does this mean? – The King’s Highway is the Highway of holiness. In Isaiah 35:8, we read about the Highway of Holiness: “And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way (Revised Standard Version) or the way of holiness (Authorized Version).” We are walking on the King’s Highway when we are walking on the Highway of Holiness.

Whenever we think of the love of Jesus, we must also think of His holiness. Jesus, our loving Saviour, is also Jesus, the holy Son of God. Jesus’ love is a holy love. It is not a gushy, sentimentalized thing. His love is holy. It is filled with moral strength, strength of character. If we are to show the love of Christ to the world, we must also show His holiness. living as men and women who are different, men and women who have been changed by the holy love of Christ.

(iv) A Life of Mission

You’ve heard the phrase, “on fire for the Lord.” There was a real difference between the healed man and his critics. He had just received his sight, and, with it, he received a mission. straightaway, he was seeking to win his critics for Christ: “Do you too want to become His disciples?” (John 9:27). the healed man was on fire for the Lord. His critics were also on fire, but they burned with a very different fire. They were burning with the desire to have Jesus killed. They did not know who Jesus was (John 9:29), because they did not want to know Him. they refused to recognize what the Lord had done for the blind man. In the face of such unbelief, we, who must continue to give our testimony: “He opened my eyes” (John 9:30). We must pray for our critics – “Open their eyes, Lord, and let them see Jesus.”

Sermon on 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and 9:16-27

Paul was no silent disciple, no half-hearted follower of Jesus. He was not ashamed of his Lord. He was glad to say, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith” (Romans 1:16).

Why was Paul bold to say, “God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14)? Why was Paul so emphatic in saying, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2)?

The answer is very simple and straightforward. He was a man who had been grasped by the power of the Gospel. Through the power of Christ, Paul was no longer his own. He belonged to Christ. This was why he was able to write to the Corinthian Christians, “You are not your own; you have been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He was a man filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. This was why he was able to challenge the Corinthian Christians: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? … So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He was a man grasped by the power of the Gospel, a man filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. What kind of men and women are we? This is the challenge of Paul’s life for us.

Paul’s life was not easy. His life story was not always a glowing success story. He suffered persecution because of his faithfulness to Christ and the Gospel. He spent time in prison because he refused to compromise his commitment to Christ. How was he able to remain faithful to Christ in such difficult circumstances? The answer is quite simple: the Holy Spirit. How did the Holy Spirit work in Paul’s life? How does the Holy Spirit work in our lives? The Holy Spirit empowered Paul to be a disciple of Jesus. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be followers of the Lord.

The word, “disciple”, is very similar to the word, “discipline.” This is no accident. The life of discipleship is a life of discipline. This is the point which Jesus made, when He said, “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

This is the lesson which Paul had learned when he said, “For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). The discipline of discipleship – this is the challenge which Paul’s life sets before us. Are you a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ?

When Paul said, “Necessity is laid upon me”, he was not speaking of a shallow or superficial emotion. The Holy Spirit works within us so that we might learn the discipline of discipleship.

When your pathway is covered with snow, what do you do? Do you clear the path because you feel like doing this? Do you clear away the snow because it has to be done? Discipline – this is what we need if the pathway is to b kept clear.

When your living room is in a mess, do you take out the vacuum cleaner because you feel like doing this? The discipline of the ‘housewife’ has much to teach us if we are to learn the discipline of discipleship, which is called for by Paul’s words: “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit … So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

The discipline of discipleship highlights for us the “I have to do this” dimension of the Christian life. Let me tell you a story about a woman in her sixties, a slim woman about five feet tall. One evening, she sat in her living room, waiting for her husband to return from his work in the fields. Suddenly, she noticed, at the window, the face of a burly stranger. She controlled herself, laid aside her needlework, crossed the room and pushed the piano against the door. When her husband returned, he called in a neighbour and, together, they pushed the piano back into its place. To this day, every once in a while, the man will look up from his newspaper and ask, “Who helped you move that piano?” The point is that she had to move the piano. He didn’t have to move it back.

When Paul spoke of the discipline of discipleship, he compared it to the discipline of the athlete: “Do you not know that, in a race, all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

For the athlete and the disciple, the prize is different. Both require the same commitment – £self-control in all things.” Paul committed himself to the discipline of discipleship – ” I pummel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified (laid aside as of no further use)” (1 Corinthians 9:27). How much do you and I know about the discipline of discipleship?

If we are to be true disciples of Christ, it will only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit: “God did not give us the spirit of fear, but the Spirit of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). When we are controlled by the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be both blessed by God and used by God.

Sermon on 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (Related reading – Philippians 3:12-16)
Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Christian can look back to the past and say, “The old life has ended.” Through Christ, the believer can now say, “The new life has begun.” Do you have this testimony? – The old life has ended. The new life has begun.
No matter how far down the old life may have dragged us, the Lord Jesus Christ reaches us and lifts us up to a new life. “Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin … Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus, deeper than the mighty rolling sea. Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain, all sufficient grace for even me. Broader than the scope of my transgression, greater far than all my sin and shame; Oh, magnify the precious Name of Jesus, praise His Name!” However far we may have fallen, the Word of God says, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). we rejoice in the great words of the Psalmist: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
If the new life is to be different from the old life – really different, spiritually different, we must begin with Jesus, with the Good News concerning the forgiveness of our sins. To begin the new life with the assurance that your sins have been forgiven is to set the direction for the new life. To know that your guilt has been removed by the Lord Jesus Christ is to be set free to live with a new strength, to face the future without fear: “March on, my soul, with strength, March forward, void of fear.” Those who know that the Lord Jesus has given them a new life do not yearn to go back to the old life: “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
This is the Biblical picture of the Christian. the old life is left in the past. We press on, living the new life. This is the Gospel’s description of the Christian: “If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away … the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Begin the new life. Come to Christ and receive from Him a life which is eternal, life with a glorious, heavenly destination.

 

3 thoughts on “What does God’s Word have to say to us? (some sermons)

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