In this message on James 2:14-26, preached at our Reformation Celebration held at Eaglehawk PC on October 30th, 2016, Rev Dr Jared Hood explores the topic of the believer’s justification and whether it is by faith (as taught by Paul) or by works (as taught by James). Is there a conflict or do the two fit together? Or is something else the basis of our justification? And if so, where do works fit in?
When Ezra set out for Jerusalem with the ‘second wave’ of 5,000 or more returning exiles with him in Ezra 8:21-36, the journey itself was a test of faith. Before they left, Ezra had advised the Persian King that he would not need the king’s soldiers to accompany them (even though they had with them much gold and silver), because ‘God’s hand would be upon them’. This was a statement that Ezra could well have lived to regret, but he had no need to. Setting out with trust in God, and having that trust in God renewed by prayer and fasting, Ezra and the Jews arrived safely at their destination. All of God’s people are on a journey to the heavenly Jerusalem and this too is a test of faith. The destination is certain and so is the God who calls us home, but the journey itself is a trial that requires faith in the promises of a faithful God.
Life has many surprises. So do the Scriptures. One of the great surprises in the New Testament is found in the unfolding conversation between the Roman centurion and the Lord Jesus. Although it appears that they never actually met in person, there was a great interaction between them, especially concerning the centurion’s servant’s ill-health. But while the approach the centurion made to Jesus was surprising, so also and even more was the surprising result of the faith the centurion exercised in Jesus that day. The same holds true for any and all who come to Jesus with the kind of faith the centurion knew.
Also, below are some ‘snapshots’ of our Naval Service 2016!
When Ezra left Babylon at the request of King Artaxerxes, to return to Jerusalem from Babylon with those that accompanied him as a ‘second wave’ of returning exiles, the text of Ezra 8:15-20 tells us that he noted that there were no Levites among the people returning with him. The Levites worked in the Temple as servants to the priests, often completing many of the menial and lowly tasks enabling the priests to do their work. Knowing that this would be vital for the proper functioning of God’s people, Ezra sent word to Iddo with his need. Iddo responded by sending 38 Levites and an additional 220 temple servants, while Ezra acknowledged God’s ‘good hand’ upon him. The call for gospel workers remains. The work is hard and often without reward. Jesus told us to pray to God (the Lord of the harvest) to thrust workers out into His harvest field, but are there those who will answer the call?
It’s coming up quickly… Our annual Naval Service is at 10:30am on Sunday October 23. We are looking forward to welcoming the members of Bendigo’s ex-Navalmen’s Club, the Cadets of TS Bendigo, and our our own guest preacher, Rev Miles Fagan from Mt Evelyn Presbyterian Church. Miles also serves as a Naval Chaplain (Reserve) at HMAS Cerebus. Join us for a yummy morning tea that follows..!
When Ezra left Babylon at the request of King Artaxerxes to return to Jerusalem, he did not set out alone. Ezra 8:1-14 records the names and the genealogies of those who set out on the four month trek with him. While the text gives us little more than the names and numbers of these returnees, this information is useful. It tells us that Ezra was an eyewitness to the events that his book records, thus increasing our assurence that the Bible is historically accurate, and it also tells us that this return was part of the plan of God. One of the men returning with Ezra to Jerusalem, Hattush, was descended from KIng David abd was the great great grandson of Zerubbabel who appears in the genealogy of Jesus. God’s plan was to bring the Messiah into tyhe world through a family, and this family was now becoming known. God’s purposes are still being worked out for the whole world. His plan is to unite everything under the feet of that Messiah, Jesus and like they people of old, we wait for Him still.
After introducing us to the reformer Ezra, Ezra 7:11-28 explains how Ezra set out for Jerusalem bearing a letter of authority from King Artaxerxes of Persia. Although he was a relative ‘nobody’ in Jerusalem (depsite his important ancestry), this letter gave Ezra the authority to do his work. The letter from the King also sets out the kind of work Ezra was to do. He was being sent to Jerusalem to enforce both the laws of Persian rule but also the law of God which Ezra knew, taught and lived out. The law of God is helpful for God’s people all the time because it shows up how far short we fall. Yet God has not left us with His law alone, He has also given us His gospel which is the cure for our sin that is revealed by the law.
Due to a recording error, the first part of this message is not found on the audio, but the missing introduction is reprinted below!
“There are not many times or occasions in your life when you are likely to receive a letter from royalty, maybe if you hit the 100 mark it will happen, but even then it will only happen the once. In my first parish our secretary was privileged to receive a reply from Buckingham Palace in response to a copy of our church’s history which had some photos of the Queen in it dating back to her visit in 1954. But even then, the response came from one of the Queen’s attendants, and not Her Majesty directly. Continue reading