The cross of Christ is so important. It is not something that we can just give a brief amount of attention to. We ought not give a passing thought to it, but survey it from the top to the bottom and note the fulness of its message – its height, length, depth and breadth. But rather than survey the cross from the perspective of any of the gospel writers or the apostles, this message brings the cross into perspective from 700 years before, through the eyes of the prophet Isaiah in his great 53 chapter. (Isaiah 53:4-6).
Rev Ian Brown preached from Romans 8:18-39, where we are encouraged to see beyond our suffering to our hope which comes through Jesus’ death and the life that comes in his resurrection. Our salvation is not based on our own goodness or anything else but Jesus. We groan under the weight of sin and long to see Jesus face-to-face. Yet we already have this inheritance and it shapes our prayers and our life now.
Guest speaker Len preaches from John 4:1-42. Jesus has an appointment to pass through Samaria, but the woman he meets needs that meeting. This passage about the Woman of Samaria is all about Jesus and his character – he did not see people as others did. How do we see people? Do we offer hope? Jesus asks the women for a drink from the well but offers her living water (compare with John 7). This living water is his Holy Spirit, that Jesus’ saving work at the cross might be applied to our lives. As the passage goes on, we learn more about who Jesus is. The woman – of low standing and bad reputation – realises that Jesus is the Christ, she has received forgiveness and forgets her task at the well to tell the whole town. Be sure that you have met Jesus. Like Jesus, be no respecter of persons (looking up or down on anyone). Drink deeply of that living water that you cannot help but speak of it!
Because Paul’s letter to Timothy was written in order to help this young pastor get the church at Ephesus back on track, after writing of the priority of prayer and God’s intent and actions to save all kinds of people through Jesus, Paul then continued in his instructions to Timothy about men and women in the church. According to 1 Timothy 2:12-15, Paul did not allow women to have teaching and ruling roles in the church over men. Though he has been much maligned because of this, Paul meant what he wrote for two reasons, both of which have been around since creation. God made man (Adam) before woman (Eve) and it was the woman (Eve) who was deceived before the man (Adam), though it could be argued that Adam should also bear the brunt of that blame! Because God has left only two institutions on earth – the church and marriage – both reflect the same design where men lead and teach and women follow while both men and women can belong to God’s family by coming to Jesus as repentant sinners
Because Paul’s letter to Timothy was written in order to help this young pastor get the church at Ephesus back on track, after writing of the priority of prayer and God’s intent and actions to save all kinds of people through Jesus, Paul then gave Timothy instructions about the special callings of men and women in the church in 1 Timothy 2:8-11. The men were particularly encouraged to put aside anger and violence and lift holy hands to God in prayer. The women too were encouraged to see beauty as something that is from within rather than an outward show of ‘bling’. As well, the women were to be respectful in worship by their attentiveness to what is taught from God’s Word. In all of these actions, Jesus, the head of the Church is glorified as men and women combine their separate callings as part of God’s Church.
After reminding Timothy of the fact that we are to pray because God is in ultimate control of all world leaders and because he is the only God there is, in 1 Timothy 2:4-7, Paul reminded Timothy that we can only approach God through the one Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Though we live in a pluralistic world which maintains there are many roads to God, there is only one way of approach that God has ordained. God esteems all mankind to be lost, however He desires all kinds of people to come to Him to be saved through Jesus. The gospel is for the whole world but has a very narrow focus and a singular entry point. The Apostle Peter said, ‘There is only one name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’ (Acts 4:12)
After reminding Timothy of the need to hold on to faith and a good conscience and so avoid making a shipwreck of his faith, in 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Paul outlined what needed to be done in Ephesus to put the church back ‘on the rails’. First in terms of priority was prayer. This should not surprise us. The Scriptures encourage us toward prayer as the means by which God acts in the world. The Bible has many examples of men who prayed and of God’s many answers. In particular, Timothy was to pray for all in positions of authority. It would not have been easy living under Roman rule and the Caesars were not tolerant of Christians, but prayer like this would be vital. Such prayer pleases God and brings to mind that His will is that all kinds of people – high and low – those in the public eye and those who are not – come to know of His saving grace in Jesus.
After Paul had shared with Timothy something of the nature of the task he had sent him to complete in Ephesus and something of his testimony about the grace of God, in 1 Timothy 1:18-20, Paul sought to reinforce something of the importance of the task that Timothy had before him. To prove faithful, Timothy would need to faithfully disharge his own commission which Paul had given him and the prophecies that had been made concerning him. Timothy would also need to hang on to faith and keeping a good conscience, as well as avoiding the mistakes of others like Hymenaeus and Alexander who had made a ‘shipwreck’ of their faith. The Titanic was laid low by icebergs that were unseen. Timothy should watch out for them both large and small, as must God’s people in every generation. There are many ‘icebergs’ of many kinds that will seek to trip up even the most wary.
After the Apostle Paul had given the young pastor, Timothy, a brief summary of his conversion and how it did not come about through law but because of grace, Paul added a brief summary of the gospel message he proclaimed in 1 Timothy 1:15-17. In these verses are the first of 5 ‘trustworthy sayings’ that are found in Paul’s letters to Timothy and to Titus. In this trustworthy saying, Paul outlined the ‘gospel in miniature’ by saying, ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst’. These verses add to the weight of Paul’s own testimony, that his salvation was all of grace, freely given to the most undeserving of his time. The result of it all is the grand doxology of verse 17. When grace changes the human heart, the result will be praise to the One who saves completely all those who come to Him (Jesus).
After the Apostle Paul had urged the young pastor, Timothy, to stay in Ephesus and straighten out the church there that was being led astray by false teaching, in 1 Timothy 1:12-14, Paul referred to himself as ‘Exhibit A’ in relation to those who were using the Law of God the wrong way. Paul had once considered himself righteous by his own (mis)understanding of what the Law taught. As a result he became a violent persecutor and hater of Christians. However, after he met the risen Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, Paul was transformed. Grace was given to him by God. Not only did he come to know the forgiveness of his sins but he also knew of the calling of God upon his life to serve the One who had hated and persecuted. Paul’s testimony was all of grace and stands to remind us that God forgives and receives even the ‘worst’ of sinners.