We have now started a mid week meeting on Thursdays at 7.30 p.m., meeting at the home of the Pastor & family. Everyone is warmly welcome! Please contact us if you would like to come along. Last week we watched a video of Sinclair Ferguson preaching at a minister's conference. This week we studied the first part of ch. 1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) and concluded with a time of prayer. If you are interested in Christianity, the WCF is an excellent place to start to learn what the Bible teaches. We would love to see you and will offer all the help that we can to explain God's word to you. The notes of our first study can be found below:
WCF Chapter 1 Of The Holy Scripture
1.1 General Revelation & Special Revelation.
God has revealed Himself in two ways: 1. Nature 2. Scripture. Psalm 19
General Revelation (Nature)
Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation.
1. What is the light of nature? Man was made in the image of God (in knowledge righteousness and holiness) & still has this image imprinted upon him. Gen 1:26-27; 9:6
2. All people know of God's existence Rom 1:19, 20; Ps 19:1-3
3. Creation and providence show God's goodness, wisdom and power. Gen 1:31; Ps 145:16; Job 38:4-18; Ps 29:3-5
4. God's moral law is imprinted on men's conscience. Rom 2:14, 15.
5. Men & women suppress the knowledge of God Rom 1:18
6. They have no excuse for their disobedience Rom 1:20, 32
7. General revelation is not sufficient to save anyone 1 Cor 1:21; 2:13, 14
Special Revelation (Scripture)
Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishing and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world; to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; the former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.
1. God has spoken to us Heb 1:1, 2
2. God has committed His Word to writing (Holy Scripture) Exod 34:27 Prov 22:19-21; Luke 1:3-4;
3. Scripture alone reveals God's way of salvation 2 Tim 3:15; 2 Pet 1:19; Isa 8:19, 20; John 14:6
4. We need God's word as Christians 2:Tim 3:16-17; Matt 4:4, 7, 10; Rom 15:4; 1 Pet 2:2
5. God's former ways of speaking to His people have ceased Heb 1:1.2; Rev 22:18-19; 1 Cor 13:8-12.
This Sunday will be the first anniversary of our meetings here in Crewe and our guest speaker will be Ian Walkington of Hookgate. Ian leads the work at Providence Chapel and is responsible for organising the Historical Lectures series which we have greatly enjoyed. We look forward to Ian's ministry and to welcoming Jane and the family. The service will take place at 3.00 p.m. at Wistaston Memorial Hall and following the meeting there will be a special tea. We extend a warm welcome to everyone who would like to come.
We thank God for his help during the past year and look to Him for future blessings. Please remember the work in your prayers.
Last week I preached on Jesus' teaching on Marriage and Divorce from Matthew 19:1-15. In this passage, Jesus was approached by Pharisees, testing Him, asking if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause. Their thinking was based on Deuteronomy 24:1. The conservative school of rabbi Shammai interpreted this to mandate divorce in the case of the wife's adultery. The liberal view of rabbi Hillel said that, based on this verse, a man could divorce his wife for any reason - for example, if she burned his food or if his roving eye found someone he thought more pretty than her. This liberal view tended to prevail in Jewish society, causing great distress and heartache for many women and their children - just as the prevalence of divorce does today in our own society.
Jesus' answer was not to debate their interpretation of Deut 24:1, but to take His hearers back to first principles. He quoted Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24. Gen 1:27 describes God's creation of mankind in God's image as "male and female." It thus outlines the dignity of both men and women, as created in the image of God, and God's purpose for mankind of marriage - one man and one woman joined in marriage for life. Gen 2:24 concludes a short passage, Gen 2:20-24, that describes the creation of woman from man. Without the woman the man felt his loneliness, even in paradise. God took a rib from Adam's side, from which He formed the woman whom he brought to the man. Feminists have objected to this account, saying that it makes woman a sort of appendage to man. However, as Matthew Henry quaintly but beautifully puts it, it portrays the woman's equal dignity and worth to the man: "The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him."
The point that Jesus made, however, is that, having taken the woman from the man, God reunited her to him in marriage - for their mutual companionship, help and support and for the procreation of children. Thus, only by extreme violence can the marriage bond be broken: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate," Matt 19:5-6. Divorce was never part of the Creator's plan and (returning to Deut 24:1-4) Jesus showed that Moses never condoned divorce, but allowed it because of the hardness of men's hearts - hardness against their wives, but primarily hardness of heart against God! Therefore, Jesus concludes, "I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."
The only thing that can break a marriage is adultery! How hateful is divorce before God and how hateful is the sin of adultery. Malachi 2:14-16 is apt: "The LORD has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. For the LORD God of Israel says, That He hates divorce, For it covers one's garment with violence, Says the LORD of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously."
For those who wish to find out more, you can listen to my sermon on Matthew 19:1-15 which you can find under "Sermons on Matthew." For those who want to read up on this subject, you can do no better than study: John Murray, Divorce, P&R, 1961 (reprinted 2012).
Last week I preached on the Transfiguration of Jesus, from Matthew 17:1-13. This is a marvelous passage because it is eyewitness testimony to Jesus' divine glory (2 Peter 1:16-18). Twice God the Father gave outward confirmation of the majestic glory of Jesus: The first time was just after Jesus' baptism, when Jesus willingly submitted to undergo the role of the Suffering Servant on our behalf (Matt 3:16-17). This second occasion occurred six days after Jesus had declared to His disciples that "He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day" (Matthew 16:21). Both these occasions were expressions of God's delight in His Son, who was willing to suffer and die on our behalf, for our sins.
As Jesus prayed upon the mountain, His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light. Not only did God the Father grant this outward manifestation of Jesus' divine glory, but He also spoke from heaven, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" There are three allusions to the Old Testament here: 1. "This is my Son" alludes to Psalm 2:7, which speaks of the eternal generation of the Son of God, and God's testimony to His Son. 2. "My beloved ... in whom I am well pleased" alludes to Isaiah 42:1, where God presented His Son as the Suffering Servant who would redeem his people and save the Gentiles. 3. "Hear Him" alludes to Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (cf. Acts 3:22) where God promised a prophet like Moses to whom we must listen or be cut off from God's people (and be eternally lost).
On this latter occasion, God had spoken from heaven on Mount Sinai, but the people had been terrified of God's voice and asked that Moses speak to them rather than God. The Lord promised that He would raise up one from among their brethren who would speak God's words to them. In Jesus, this prophecy is perfectly fulfilled: Jesus is the Eternal Word of God, God become flesh, made like one of us, our kinsman redeemer. He is Emmanuel, God with us. What a wonder that God should become man - our brother, our Saviour and our friend. Let us never forget however, that He is still our Lord and our God. "He is God from everlasting, and to everlasting God." Let us never cease to marvel that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
Behold the Great Creator makes
Himself a house of clay:
a robe of human flesh He takes
which He will wear for aye.
Hark, hark, the wise eternal Word
like a weak infant cries!
In form of servant is the Lord,
and God in cradle lies.
Join then, all hearts that are not stone,
and all our voices prove,
to celebrate this Holy One,
the God of peace and love.
Last night my wife and I, with two of our children, traveled to Christ Church Deeside to listen to Stuart Olyott speak on "I was there on 18th October 1966, the evening that changed evangelicalism for ever!" We had a great evening! Not only so, but we learned much about our evangelical heritage. As Stuart explained, it was 50 years to the day that Dr Martin Lloyd Jones gave his momentous opening address to the Second National Assembly of Evangelicals, organized by the Evangelical Alliance at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. In explaining the significance of the Doctor's address and the events that took place on that occasion, Dr Olyott answered three questions: 1. What was the state of Evangelicalism before these momentous events took place? 2. What exactly happened at that meeting? 3. What have been the long term consequences? To have these questions answered by an eyewitness and participant in this history was both exhilarating and enlightening. I previously had no idea of the struggles that many faithful evangelical ministers had within the mainline denominations prior to 1966. Nor did I fully appreciate the powerful impact of Dr Lloyd Jones' message on our evangelical churches to this day. If you want to understand the times in which we live as evangelical Christians in Britain today, Stuart's message is required listening. You can find it at the following link:
If you want to read the address that Dr Lloyd Jones gave on that momentous occasion in 1966 you can find it published as Evangelical Unity: An Appeal, in, D. M. Lloyd Jones, Knowing The Times: Addresses Delivered on Various Occasions 1942-1977, Banner of Truth:
Written some 16 years ago, this book by Ian Murray is just as relevant today as when it was first published. It tells the sad story of how, in reacting to the narrowness of fundamentalism, evangelicals sought intellectual respectability and acceptance within their denominations at the price of doctrinal compromise. This transpired both in the USA and UK with such organisations and movements as Fuller Theological Seminary, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the National Evangelical Anglican Congress and Evangelicals and Catholics Together. Key to this compromise was the willingness to accept as Christian brethren all who made a Christian profession, regardless of glaring doctrinal errors that they held. The result has been that, rather than further the evangelical cause, evangelicalism has declined in power and influence. The great need of the time is faithfulness to the Word of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The book ends on a happy note by reminding us that whatever the conflict and discord that God's people experience in this world, Christ is preparing His heavenly Church for the day when it will be unveiled as perfect and complete, without spot or blemish, in all its glory as His bride.
We give thanks to the Lord for Micah's baptism, and the administration of the sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace to our son. We are grateful for all those who were able to join with us on this joyful occasion. The hymns were chosen from Christian hymns: 333 Glorious things of thee are spoken, 6 From all that dwell below the skies (Micah's favourite), 524 And can it be, and 728 Guide me O thou great Jehovah. The sermon was on 1 Corinthians 10 verses 1-5 and can be found on this website. Micah is the young boy in the middle of the photo, between his two Grandmas (who are on the front row).
We are pleased to announce the baptism of Micah Coxon which take place during the service on the Lord's day on 17th July at 3.00 p.m. at Wistaston Memorial Hall. Micah is just 9 years old and will be baptised as the child of believing parents, Paul and Sue Coxon. Micah loves the Lord Jesus Christ and has already made a Christian profession. The service will be followed by sandwiches and cakes and we extend a warm welcome to all who would like to come. Please remember Micah in your prayers that God would bless him and have His hand continually upon him both now and throughout his life. We thank God for our children and plead His promises to bless them: "Behold children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate," Psalm 127:3-5. "I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants," Isaiah 44:3.
Several people have asked me about the 5 points of Calvinism. While a theological system cannot be reduced to a few points, the 5 points of Calvinism are a useful aid to help us understand the way in which our salvation is brought about by God. The acronym TULIP is a way of helping us remember the 5 points as follows:
T stands for Total Depravity. This means that, although no one is bad as they could be, sin has affected every part of us - our will, our mind, our heart. Consequently, we cannot please God or save ourselves. Nor indeed can we choose the gift of salvation offered to us through Jesus Christ in the Gospel. Rather we are biased against God and veer away from righteousness.
U stands for Unconditional Election. We did not choose God, but he chose us to salvation before the foundation of the world. This was not conditional upon anything that God foresaw in us. His choice was not made on the basis of what we would be or do. Rather He chose us according to his own good pleasure and purpose in Christ.
L is Limited Atonement. Although there is no limit to the merit of Christ or the saving efficacy of His blood, God sent his Son for the definite purpose of saving His elect. Thus while Jesus died for the world of mankind - people from every nation and language - He died specifically to save His people - those whom the Father had given to Him before the world was. His death is efficacious for their salvation and no one for whom the Saviour died will ever be lost.
I is Irresistible Grace. Those who were chosen by God before the foundation of the world, for whom the Son made atonement upon the cross, are called to new life by the power of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the gospel. Just as Lazarus was called from his tomb by the voice of the Son of God, so God calls those who are dead in trespasses and sins by the irresistible work of the Holy Spirit who re-creates us in newness of life.
P stands for the Perseverance of the Saints. Having chosen us, atoned for our sins and regenerated us, God preserves us unto his eternal Kingdom. Thus all God's elect people will persevere in grace to the end of their lives and will share in the inheritance of God's children in His eternal Kingdom.
Thus the 5 Points of Calvinism teach us that we are saved by grace alone, from first to last, to the glory of God.
Our friends at Providence Chapel, Hookgate, are holding a series of church history presentations over 2016. These cover a range of topics and all are completely free to attend. They promise to be not only informative concerning the history of the church but also helpful to our understanding of the gospel. The first of these will take place on Thursday 28th April, when Retired pastor Alun McNabb will speak on the Subject of "John Wesley (1703 - 1791) and Holy Fire." Other speakers include Andrew Gurr on "The history of Commander Allen Gardiner R.N," Stephen Ford on "John Fletcher of Madeley and the manifestation of Christ," and Paul Coxon on "Martin Luther and the righteousness of God." David Young will conclude the series with three lectures on "An early 19th century revival movement," "The erosion of Evangelical belief before Darwin and Higher Criticism," and "The widespread discarding of Evangelical belief after Darwin and Higher Criticism." I am very much looking forward to attending and participating in this series. For further information follow this link: