I imagine you know quite a few people who do not believe in God. How do you answer them? Where do you begin? The first thing I want to say is that when you encounter someone who doubts the existence of God realize that it is not your responsibility to convince them or win the argument. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. Since God is not visible to the human eye, there can be no direct physical proof of him. However, God has provided ample evidence of his existence and character both in the created world and in the unique nature of human beings. Above all he has given a perfect and sufficient revelation of himself in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. Besides these evidences, there is the witness of the Bible and the prophecies God placed in it which have come true. Finally there is the testimony of the Church. Today one quarter of the world’s population claim to follow Jesus Christ. Ironically, the Church is growing fastest where the persecution and opposition is the most intense. Let make some observations before we look at Psalm 19 our reading for today. First observation: Because of our fallen nature it is natural for people to doubt the existence of God.Continue reading
According to the Mail on Sunday, “Thousands of Extinction Rebellion protestors including an Olympic gold medallist have staged a sit-down protest in Oxford Street and Regent Street, blocking traffic in the heart of London’s shopping district to call for no new investment in fossil fuels. The climate change activists gathered at Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park on Saturday morning before marching into the centre of the city’s West End.” Climate Change is indeed a serious threat to the survival of planet earth. But only one person can save the world and that is Jesus.
Many people joined in the demonstration. Some were there on impulse. They were tourists or troublemakers. They joined in the demo. They took their photos. But they went home but soon forgot about it. Others were intentional. They planned to be there. They take climate change seriously and want to do something to help the most vulnerable nations. So there were the impulsive people and the intentional people at the demo yesterday.
It was the same on that first Palm Sunday. The crowds gathered when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Why arrive on a donkey? Because King Solomon had done the same. Because Jesus the King was coming in peace. What did the people shout? Hosanna. What did this mean? “Save now” But not everyone in the crowd was serious. Some were there on impulse. They saw the crowds and thought Jesus could save them money. Change the government, lower the taxes and give them food to eat. Others were intentional. They recognised Jesus as the King of heaven. What did they do? Why? They lay down their lives to serve and follow him not just for one day but forever.
The same is true today. Some are here on impulse – maybe you saw the cars or crowds coming in and you thought – I’ll go and find out. That’s OK. Some may have come because of an invitation or the breakfast or fresh coffee. That’s OK too. We hope you will come back next week. Others are intentional. You planned to be here. You wouldn’t miss being with Jesus and his family on Sunday for all the world. So which are you? Impulsive or intentional? It depends on whether Jesus is your King? How do you become a citizen of a country? Normally you have to be born in the country to be a citizen. It’s the same with the Kingdom of Heaven. We have to be born again.
In the United Kingdom we also welcome people born elsewhere in the world who wish to become citizens (but only if they are from certain countries). The fortunate ones are expected to learn English and find out about our history, culture and values. It’s the same with the Kingdom of God. That is why we run the Christianity Explored Course to help people learn about citizenship in God’s kingdom. Sometimes countries also require you to give up your old citizenship first if you want to become a citizen of their country. It’s the same in the kingdom of heaven. We have to give up our old citizenship. The Bible tells us this is why Jesus came as King. He came to rescue us.
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13)
In the UK we also now ask new citizens to take part in a public ceremony and make a declaration to promise to abide by the laws of our country. It’s the same in the Kingdom of Heaven. In the Baptism Service when we repudiate our old citizenship to take on our new citizenship. These are the questions asked and answers expected:
Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God? I reject them.
Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil? I renounce them.
Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour? I repent of them.
Do you turn to Christ as Saviour? I turn to Christ.
Do you submit to Christ as Lord? I submit to Christ.
Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life? I come to Christ.
Have you been baptised? We are having our next baptism ceremony on 7th June.
Some countries have a special day in the year when they celebrate their citizenship. In the United States it is the 4th July. In the Church, Easter is the special time of year when we remember Jesus death and resurrection and renew our faith in Jesus our king. Next Sunday as part of our Easter service we will be inviting you to reaffirm your citizenship in the kingdom of God expressed in membership of this local church. If you regard yourself as a citizen of heaven but have not completed the Electoral Roll form, please do.
How do we prove our citizenship when we travel abroad? We have to take our passport. It’s a document provided by the government to prove our identity as its citizens. Do you have your passport with you? Then I’d like to provide you with one. There is one in your weekly news.
In preparation for next Sunday I invite you to answer these questions and repudiate your membership of any other kingdom…..
Now lets declare our commitment to our King, the Lord Jesus Christ – intentionally and not impulsively. I invite you to sign your passport and carry it where ever you go. Be ready to show it to anyone who asks you about your citizenship. Give your life in total surrender and loyal obedience to your King. Not just for Palm Sunday but every day. And remember the good news is that anyone can become a citizen of the kingdom of heaven if they too recognise Jesus as their Saviour, Lord and King.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my future recently. Maybe its because I ‘celebrated’ (if that is the right word) my 65th birthday at the weekend. I’ve come to the conclusion that the biggest divide in the world in not between life and death but between our perceptions of life and death. The apostle Paul in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica writes,
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
What is the simplest way of distinguishing those who have hope and those who do not? I believe it has to do with how we view death and loved one who have died. Do we refer to them in the past tense or in the present tense? Continue reading
Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, issued a warning recently that climate change poses a huge risk to global stability. At a gathering of leading insurers at Lloyd’s of London, Mr Carney pointed out that the rapid increase in weather-related catastrophes was causing a spike in financial costs. But he also warned that the challenges currently posed by climate change “pale in significance compared with what might come”. He said our generation has little incentive to avert future problems. Ironically, insurers are among those with the biggest interest in climate change as the syndicates operating at Lloyd’s, the world’s oldest insurance market, are the most exposed to disasters such as hurricanes and floods. Mr Carney said the after-effects of such disasters were likely to grow worse: “The challenges currently posed by climate change pale in significance compared with what might come. “The far-sighted amongst you are anticipating broader global impacts on property, migration and political stability, as well as food and water security.” Who is responsible? We can blame politicians for failing to act sooner. We can criticize multinational corporations for exacerbating climate change through the exploitation of oil, gas and other natural resources. Or we can acknowledge that the Christian Church, which is the largest religious movement in the world, has largely failed to fulfil its responsibility to care for creation. Church leaders have not, until relatively recently, acknowledged that creation care is integral to the gospel.
There are many different kinds of Church. You can be a member of an Anglican, Baptist, Brethren, Charismatic, Coptic, Episcopal, Methodist, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Reformed, Roman Catholic or one of hundreds of other denominations including the Strict and Particular.
Some prefer a High Church, a Low Church, a Broad Church, Mega Church or a House Church. In remote places you may have to attend a Virtual Church. In some countries people belong to the Underground Church because they are a Persecuted Church. Many long to have a Junior Church, and aspire to be a Messy Church. But no one wants to belong to a Dead Church. We need to belong to a Bible Church, a Local Church, a Community Church, an International Church, a Gospel Church and a welcoming, friendly, caring, Christ–centred, Holy Spirit filled Church.
And some are realising that God also wants us to be an Eco Church as well. What is an Eco Church? An Eco Church demonstrates by their actions that they care for God’s earth. That is why on Harvest Sunday at Christ Church we are committing ourselves to become an Eco Church.
Increasing numbers of Christians are realising that caring for God’s creation is central to the Christian faith. We may have neglected creation care in the past but we are rediscovering that creation care is one of our God given responsibilities. A’Roche together with Tearfund and the Church of England are teaming up to help us become an Eco Church. This is a talk I gave at the September Family Service.
Last week, the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, issued an unprecedented warning that climate change poses a huge risk to global stability. At a gathering of leading insurers at Lloyd’s of London, Mr Carney pointed out the rapid increase in weather-related catastrophes and the jump in both the physical and financial costs. He said the challenges currently posed by climate change “pale in significance compared with what might come”. He said this generation had little incentive to avert future problems. He avoided spelling out what was causing this apparent change, but said evidence was mounting of man’s role in climate change. Insurers are among those with the biggest interest in climate change as the syndicates operating at Lloyd’s, the world’s oldest insurance market, are the most exposed to disasters such as hurricanes and floods. Mr Carney said the after-effects of such disasters were likely to grow worse: “The challenges currently posed by climate change pale in significance compared with what might come. “The far-sighted amongst you are anticipating broader global impacts on property, migration and political stability, as well as food and water security.”
Next Sunday, 7th February, we are hosting a seminar at Christ Church on Climate Change with Professor Scott Elias of Royal Holloway, University of London from 3:00-5:00pm. All welcome.
Professor Scott Elias will give us the latest evidence for climate change. You will not want to miss this event. Do invite your friends.
“Since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made its last assessment of global warming in 2007, new data have emerged that point ever more clearly to the growing threat of climate change, and mankind’s role in creating these problems. It is now clear that human-induced climate change is already affecting both the physical environment (e.g., rising temperatures, melting sea ice, etc.) and the biological world (e.g., changes in ecosystems, threats to the habitats of many species). Global precipitation trends have also been linked to human induced global warming.
These changes include increased precipitation in Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, drier Northern Hemisphere tropics and subtropics, and wetter Southern Hemisphere tropics. The magnitude of these changes is greater than what has been predicted in previous climate models, and may already be affecting ecosystems, agriculture, and human health in some regions.
The world’s oceans are becoming acidified as more CO2 gas is dissolved in ocean waters. Ocean acidification threatens the world’s coral reefs, shellfish, and marine ecosystems generally. The latest estimates now predict that global sea level will rise between ½ and 2 meters by the end of this century, as much as four times the estimate made by IPCC in its 2007 report.
The situation is grim, but because it is human-caused, there is much we can do to remedy the situation. The whole world must take this problem seriously. Governments as well as individuals must act quickly.”
There is no Planet B.
Having good friends serving with Answers in Genesis, I am delighted to commend this article and website. The concluding quote from Charles Darwin should make your hair stand on end. That is where evolution leads us – genocide and eugenics.
“Though not all of America’s Founding Fathers were Bible-believing Christians, the United States was nevertheless founded on biblical principles. These Fathers declared that our rights come from God, the Sovereign Creator. For example, the Declaration of Independence reads:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The U.S. Founding Fathers recognized that our rights come from God and that government should exist to protect our rights. However, if there is no God basis, then our rights can only come from the generosity of the state and its leaders. If the state gives us our rights, then the state can take them away.
Thomas Jefferson, in his Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781, wrote: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God.”
In addition, if there is no God, then men are not “created,” and they are not necessarily “equal”: Charles Darwin declared that man evolved and was not created and that some are more evolved than others. The state in essence can become the new god. Darwin wrote:
“The civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world… The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as the baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.” (Charles Darwin, Descent of Man, 1871)