Grounded in the Gospel: From Fear to Faith

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 5:1-20)

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Jesus’ encounter with a demonized man is a salient reminder of two extremes to be avoided. Some dismiss the devil as a mythological character personified as a cartoon character, others have an unhealthy preoccupation with his dark world. In the preface to his “Screwtape Letters”, CS Lewis writes, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”...

Grounded in the Gospel: Authentic Listening

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 4:1-20

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A parable can be likened to an audiology test. Hearing, or better heeding, is the only way to understand the parables of Jesus. Parables are like stained glass windows; dull and opaque from the outside, brilliant and shining from within. Jesus in this instance speaks of a sower indiscriminately scattering seed which falls in turn on the pathway, rocky ground, among thorns and good soil. The farmer is excessive and almost wasteful. So intent is he on a harvest, that he sows in every corner of the field. Even so, typical of the austere farming conditions, rocks, thorns and adverse elements see three quarters of his labour lost. Hardly encouraging odds. But the parable does not end on a discouraging note. The good soil produces a breathtaking harvest with amazing results in spite of poor beginnings....

Grounded in the Gospel: Following Jesus

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 3:7-35)

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Wherever Jesus went crowds followed him.
They saw him as a celebrity, itinerant rabbi. Attracted by his miracles and healing they gathered in Galilee from far and wide: Jewish people from Judea and Jerusalem some 140kms away, Idumea and Transjordan culturally diverse, Tyre and Sidon some 70kms away majority Gentile. However, Mark regards the crowds as passive onlookers at best, obstructive obstacles at worst...

Grounded in the Gospel: The Power of Forgiveness

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 2:1-17

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The funeral of Mrs. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela last Saturday has placed forgiveness and reconciliation front and centre in South-Africa. On a global scale we have seen governments and countries engage in potentially deadly tit-for-tat retaliations. Many people regard forgiveness as a sign of weakness. Revenge for them is the only moral way out. People who live that way tend to think that God is like that too. As Tom Wright put it, “Forgiveness is the most powerful thing in the world. But because it is so costly, we prefer to settle for second best.”
Not so for Jesus...

The Servant Songs: Courage for the Call

Preacher: Rev. Elsie Armstrong Rhodes

Verses:  Isaiah 49:1-7 and John 1:29-42

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On the 11th of March we had the privilege to have The Word preached to us by a sister in Christ from the USA, the Rev. Elsie Armstrong Rhodes.

She shared the above sermon with the congregation, providing a beautiful, encouraging and challenging message on faith, trust and the courage to go into the world and shine God's light.

Grounded in the Gospel: Jesus Proclaims the Kingdom & Calls His Disciples

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 1:14-20 & Jonah 3:1-10

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In both texts, Mark 1:14-20 and Jonah 3:1-10, the writers (Mark & Jonah) are trying to show us two important things:

  1. The necessity of the gospel
  2. The nature of discipleship

The story of the City of Nineveh is one that shows the impact that proclamation of God’s message has on a life of sinner. Firstly, it brings salvation. Secondly, it demands repentance—a radical change of heart. The content of the message shows the problem of humanity (sin), its consequence (impending judgement), and solution to the problem (God’s plan of salvation). It is a message of hope—the forgiveness of sin. The story also shows us that without God, man is lost, and without hope. Salvation of man is the work of God alone.

Grounded in the Gospel: The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 1:6-13

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Of all the gospel writers, it is Mark who affirms the humanity of Jesus in a compelling way. Having highlighted the divinity of Jesus right at the outset as “the Messiah, the Son of God” (1:1), he underscores the humanity of Jesus. Jesus grows hungry and thirsty. He falls asleep in the prow of the disciples’ boat. He is unaware of things on one occasion. Mark invites us to enter the drama of his gospel by following the actions and activities of Jesus. The pace is breath taking at times as out preconceived ideas about Jesus are challenged to the core. Mark is more concerned with what Jesus does than what he says...

Grounded in the Gospel: John the Baptist Prepares the Way

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 1:1-8

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Mark tells us upfront and centre what the gospel is.
It is the story of Jesus; not a mystery story in which we must piece together clues to discover its meaning, not a test of dates and places, not a mere system of thought or speculation. He writes for Roman Gentiles under the direction of Peter. He uses Old Testament quotations sparingly. Remarkably he begins his story with a tapestry of three Old Testament verses from Exodus, Malachi and Isaiah. He reminds us that the gospel is only understandable in light of what God has done in the Old Testament Jesus is not an afterthought of God, plan B as it were as if an earlier plan of salvation had gone awry.

John’s calling is to ‘prepare the way’ for the One to follow. He is identified with Elijah who did not die but was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). The expectation was that Elijah would return as a forerunner of God’s kingdom in the final day (Malachi 4:5)...

I Have Heard You Calling

Preacher: Gordon Hay

Verses: 1 Samuel 3:1-10 and John 1:43-51

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I have spent my working life in the practice of law. And much of this has been in litigation. The art of advocacy is to present the facts and the argument in such a way that the Judge will not only hear the words spoken, but will understand them and make a decision based on your argument.
You want the Judge not only to hear you, but also to listen to you.

If our hearing is not impaired, “hearing” is something which happens to us as a natural process when someone speaks.

“Listening” is something we need to do consciously – we need not only to hear, but to take in, consider and respond.

I know that sometimes when I am watching sport and Sue calls me to help in the kitchen I don’t “hear” immediately – meaning I hear but I don’t listen.
I am sure as children there were times when you heard your parents calling you to stop playing and to come in to bath. But did you listen? That was another question!

Testifying About the One

Preacher: Lincon Atherton

Verses: John 1:19-28

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So in just over a week we will be celebrating Christmas. This should be such a joyous time for us. Many of us will wake up, sit in front of the Christmas tree, a cup of tea or coffee in the one hand, a hot cross bun, possible a rusk in the other. Some of us will have the option of sleeping in a little bit later than usual, others, parents, grandparents, you might not be so lucky.

For me personally, there is nothing much better than seeing a child’s face on Christmas morning. When I think of what excitement should look like, that is generally the face that I always picture. I have two younger siblings, and I can distinctly remember their faces when they were younger, opening their presents on Christmas morning. And what always amazed me was the fact that for them, it never really mattered what that gift was. For my brother, it could have been a set of small toy cars, a soccer ball, a bicycle. For my sister, it might have been paint, a doll, a puzzle even. For them, it was the sheer excitement of getting something that they enjoyed. And I believe that we all had the same basic emotions as children...

The Solas of the Reformation - God’s Glory Alone

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: 1 Kings 8:56-61, Romans 11:33-36

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Faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone and Scripture alone are an apt description of Reformation teaching and belief, which reach a climax and summation in God’s glory alone, Soli Deo Gloria.

The glory of God defies simple explanation. Glory describes the essential nature of God. At best we can seek to use human language by way of analogy to grasp its meaning. Old Testament Hebrew speaks of God’s glory as ‘weight’ or ‘heaviness’ in an attempt to describe God’s visible and active presence by way of creation and covenant. In creation the heavens declare the glory of God. In covenant relation with his people a burning bush, a pillar of cloud and fire and the ‘shekinah glory’ filling the tabernacle and temple are material manifestations of God’s glory. When Moses requested to see God’s glory in Exodus 33 he was granted a rear view of comet-like afterburn flashing past him. In short, the glory of God in the O.T. defies adequate description....

The Solas of the Reformation - God's Word Alone

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: 2 Peter 1:16-21, Luke 24:25-32

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Martin Luther regarded the right understanding of Scripture as the essence of the Reformation. Even though many of the outward characteristics 500 years ago are different today, the basic principles remain the same. The first thing Luther did after being excommunicated from the Roman Catholic church in 1521 was to translate the New Testament into German in just eleven months. As such, the Reformation had radical ramifications. Up until this time the vast majority of the population was illiterate. With the advent printing and the rapid distribution of literature, the Bible became much more accessible to the needs of people’s lives...

The Solas of the Reformation - Faith Alone

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: John 1:1-13, Romans 1:16,17

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Note: There is no audio for this sermon as our sound desk was in for repairs at the time.

Martin Luther was convinced that faith is the key that opens the human heart to the heart of God. Faith is the key which enables us to understand the great Reformation truth ‘Justification By Faith’ or more precisely ‘Justification by Grace through Faith’. Luther was convinced that we would only understand faith in the light of the character of God and the reality of a battle for the hearts and minds of humanity.
Luther, slowly and painfully, saw that the righteousness of God in Romans 1:17 does not simply refer to his justice requiring judgement, rather a new status granted by grace. In Luther’s world there was a division between spiritual people like monks and nuns and secular people in the market place and everyday world. If you really wanted to be spiritual you took the monk’s cowl or the nun’s habit and devoted yourself to God in a monastery. However, Luther’s ‘monkery’ did not satisfy his soul. As part of the Augustinian order Luther was encouraged by his spiritual director to read the works of Augustine to address some of his doubts and an over sensitive conscience. Augustine spoke of a ‘restless heart’ that would only find rest in God....

The Solas of the Reformation - Christ Alone

Preacher: Gordon Hay

Verses: Colossians 1:15-22, Philippians 3:10-14

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It was 500 years ago that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg launching what became known as the Reformation. If you were here last week you would have heard that we are looking at what have become known as the five “solas” of the reformation. These are:

  • Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone")
  • Sola fide ("by faith alone")
  • Sola gratia ("by grace alone")
  • Solus Christus or Solo Christo ("Christ alone" or "through Christ alone")
  • Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone")

Alan commenced last Sunday by looking at “Grace alone”. And he said this:
Grace is “not simply a theological concept to discuss and debate, grace is the means whereby we start, continue and finish our faith journey on earth and beyond.”

As we look at “By Christ alone” this morning I want to continue with the picture of our faith journey and how we are to respond to the five solas. And I want to look at this:

  •  Against the context in which Luther found himself;
  •  The supremacy of Christ; and
  •  Our response.

The Solas of the Reformation - Grace Alone

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Ephesians 2:1-10, Titus 2:11-14

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John Newton in his hymn reminds us that grace is truly ‘amazing’. Yet all too often grace has become such a familiar term that we lose the amazing nature of that wonderful truth. So, with Gods help, let us attempt to put ‘amazing’ back into grace. Grace is not simply a theological concept. It is not just an idea about God. Grace is all about the person and work of Jesus. Grace is Jesus personified. Throughout the Old Testament grace and sacrifice go hand in glove. A blood sacrifice of an animal was the substitute for the sins of the Israelites. In themselves they were not sufficient for the full forgiveness of sins, needing to be repeated time and again; thereby pointing to the coming of Christ...

The Gospel According to Romans - Living Under Grace 9: Christian Security

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses:Romans 8:31-39

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Prior to chapter eight, Paul mentions the Holy Spirit only four times. However, now he more than makes up for the absence. He speaks of the Spirit no less than twenty times in chapter eight. His concern is not so much who the Spirit is i.e. his person, rather what the Spirit does. And what the Spirit does is to impart the life and hope of God that have been the key themes since chapter five...

There Was Once a Man Who Planted a Vineyard. Accept or Reject?

Preacher: Gordon Hay

Verses:Romans Isaiah 5:1-7 and Matthew 21:33-46

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The mayor of Johannesburg is on a campaign to get rid of tenants who have hi-jacked buildings belonging to others. The tenants have moved in, refused to pay rental, refused to recognise the landlord and in some cases representatives of the landlords, have been killed when trying to intervene. It is not just tenants.
The law reports record many instances of employees, agents, franchisees, and representatives who have either misused or stolen the property entrusted to them.
These are persons who have been given every opportunity to do well both for themselves and for the owner, but have turned rogue and ignored the owner. The owner who had trusted them and entrusted to them the property in question.
What does the owner feel? Completely disappointed, let down, and betrayed. And retaliation follows. Applications for interdicts, termination of the contract and claims for damages.
And as we consider the passages read for us this morning we will realise that this is the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden....

The Gospel According to Romans - Living under Grace 7: Children of God

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses:Romans 8:1-17

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Roman chapter eight has rightly been described as one of the greatest passages of Scripture, dealing with three foundational truths of the gospel viz. Assurance, Life in the Spirit and Adoption in Christ.

The birth right of the Christian is ‘no condemnation’. The verdict of the final day has been brought forward and declared i.e. ‘righteous’ for those belonging to Christ. The verdict cannot be changed. We face judgement day with complete assurance. What lies ahead for the believer is not a life-or-death assessment of our lives, but the divine disclosure of acquittal...

The Gospel According to Romans - Living under Grace 6: Grace Trumps Law, The “I” of the Storm

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Romans 7:14-25

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‘Who am I?’ They mock me, those lonely questions of mine. Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine’. The answer to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s poignant probing is crucial as it will determine our values, lifestyle, future and ultimate destiny. It is here that Romans 7 enters the fray. Few passages of Scripture have been more influential in shaping how Christians think about themselves. However, the passage is not so much about the Christian life as about the law, the Torah and its effects upon the believer...

 

The Gospel According to Romans - Living under Grace 5: Grace Trumps Law

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Romans 7:1-6

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Paul has argued in Romans chapter six that as Christians we have died to sin. He now adds in 7:4 “you also died to the law”. If the law in Psalm 19:7 ff is described as “… perfect refreshing the soul… [and] The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous,” why then are we called to die to something which is inherently good, true and righteous. Paul would argue that the problem is not the law per se, rather sin which is provoked by the law and seeks to control us. Left to ourselves we end up serving sin as master of our lives. Bob Dylan protest folk singer of the sixties and recent Nobel Laureate for literature reminds us...