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...

 

The Gospel According to Romans - Living under Grace 3: Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Romans 6:1-14

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Thomas Schreiner aptly describes this as ‘one of the most complicated and controversial portions of Romans’. It has also been referred to, tongue in cheek, as a ‘good Baptist chapter for a Presbyterian to preach on’.

I would argue that Paul is not referring to baptism in a sacramental sense i.e. water baptism. Rather he is using it as a metaphor for conversion and new life in Christ. “All of you who were baptised into Christ have been clothed with Christ through the new birth” (Gal 3:27). “Our ancestors were all under the cloud and they all passed through the sea. They were all baptised into Moses in the cloud and the sea” (1 Cor 10:1,2). Moses was their representative head into whom they were baptised. Someone has cheekily observed that the only people who got wet that day were the Egyptians who drowned in the sea! Moreover Mark 10:38 speaks of the impending baptism which Jesus must undergo i.e. his death and suffering on the cross...

The Great Comission

Preacher: Jones Liwewe

Verses: Mark 16:15-18, Matthew 28:18-20

Matthew 28:18-20 is perhaps the most well-known version of the Great Commission but each of the Gospels expresses it in different ways. In Mark 16:15-18, for instance, we are told to "Go into the entire world and preach the gospel to all creation (all people)". In Matthew 28:18-20, the instruction is to "Go and make disciples of all nations (all peoples)". I believe that the Holy Spirit inspired each writer of the Gospel to write in the way they did. I also believe that what they wrote was in line with what Jesus commanded them. So the command therefore is to go into the world to preach the gospel to every creature, and to make disciples of all nations

The Gospel According to Romans - Living Under Grace 2: Grace Trumps Sin

Series: Living Under Grace

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Romans 5:12-21

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This is one of the more difficult passages of Paul’s letter to the Romans: a series of running contrasts between acts of Adam and the acts of Christ and their respective consequences. N.T. Wright aptly describes it as ‘after the measured sentences of the first eleven verses of chapter five, verses 12-21 is like turning from Rembrandt to Picasso.’ Much of the language is new to the argument of Romans, and the style changes from the exhortation of vv1-11 to the resumption or argumentation in vv12-21. Moreover, Paul starts something in v12, gets side tracked in verse 13 like most preachers and only resumes the argument in v18. That said, the passage is crucial for a robust understanding of sin. However, sin is no match for the person and work of Christ, depicted as the second Adam...

The Gospel According to Romans - Living under Grace 1: Peace With God

Series: Living Under Grace

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Romans 5:1-11

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As we return to Romans, having looked at chap 1-4 in the first quarter, we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in which Martin Luther and Romans played a crucial role. In his Preface to the letter Luther writes, “The epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament, and is purest gospel… as the daily bread of the soul. Therefore, let every Christian be familiar with it and exercise himself in it continually.”...

Love in the Little Things

Preacher: Pierre Fourie

Verses: 1 John 3:11-18

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I want to ask ourselves today, what’s calling for your and my attention? What’s demanding to be done and requiring our energy and focus? Perhaps we could ponder on this, as we share the Word today. In our Old Testament reading, sandwiched between two verses about fearing our Lord are the words “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing”...

How beautiful are the feet!

Preacher: Lincon Hardouin

Verses: Isaiah 52:1-12

Isaiah 52:1-12 forms part of a much larger unit which actually starts with Isaiah 51:1 and ends with our text. The theme of redemption and restoration of God’s people runs strongly throughout these two chapters with Isaiah 52:1-12 forming the climax to this theme. The people that the prophet Isaiah is addressing in these chapters are those Israelites who have been taken into exile in Babylonia. Of course, these people are facing, yet again, turmoil as they have been forcibly removed from their lands; however, in facing such struggles, the Israelites are also facing the destruction of the city of Jerusalem. In facing these many struggles, Isaiah finds comfort in the promise of God to restore and redeem His people and so our focus is on Isaiah 52:1-12...

An Invitation to the Lord’s Banquet

Preacher: Jones Liwewe

Verses: Isaiah 25:1-12

Chapter 25 of the book of Isaiah is part of the prophecy of God’s judgement on the World. It begins in chapter 24-27 and it has to be understood in that context. However, it is a chapter is the part of the prophecy that explains God’s ultimate plan for humanity and shows God’s faithfulness. From verses 1-5, Isaiah talks of the things that God will do in the here and now; and this is the work of salvation. From verse 6-12, he explains God’s plan for the here but not yet...