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The Journal

Jesus with no added extras

Dear Friends, 
Today is our last in our series on the Reformation and the focus is on Christ alone. The writer to Hebrews helps the readers to see how the Jewish sacrificial system and all the Law is fulfilled in Jesus who is the perfect sacrifice for our sin. In our passage today Hebrews 9:11-28 we are encouraged that Jesus’ death cleanses our consciences from guilt 9:14. People can experience false guilt whereby they experience guilt for things which they have wrongly interpreted as being their fault. However, there is true guilt which we all experience. The Bible teaches that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of Christ Romans 3:23 and we experience guilt because we have not lived up to God’s standards. The good news of the Gospel is that through Christ’s death our guilt is removed. This guilt and its accompanying shame is dealt with and cleansed based on the fact that Jesus’ death has satisfied God’s just anger at our sin. God’s anger is no longer directed at us because God’s anger and judgement has fallen on Jesus instead of us. This means we can approach God with confidence and enjoy Him and serve Him. In this passage there are 3 other phrases which capture the essence of what Jesus has done and achieved for us. In 9:15 Jesus is identified as our mediator meaning that He is the one who represents us to God. As our high priest he takes up the role of the OT priest who would make a sacrifice on behalf of the people for their sin. Jesus is qualified to be our mediator because He is sinless and also willingly offers His life as a sacrifice for our sin. Secondly we learn of the power of the blood of Jesus 9:22. Theblood of Jesus refers to His life - see Leviticus 17:11. Jesus’ blood means that Jesus has given His life and takes the punishment we deserve so we could be forgiven. Jesus’ blood shed is consistent with the OT teaching that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin 9:22. Thirdly we learn that Jesus’ death is once for all 9:28. In the OT the High Priest had to repeat the sacrifices each year because these sacrifices were not an end in themselves but pointed to the need of a perfect sacrifice that Jesus would bring. The sacrifice of Jesus is powerful and effective because He sat down at the right hand side of God Hebrews 12:2. This is a very important truth because we are reminded that nothing can be added to the death of Jesus. Indeed at the cross Jesus called out It is finished John 19:30 meaning that He had completed the work of salvation. God encourages us to rest in what He has done not what we do. The death of Jesus means that you are justified before God. The reformers also taught that there is something else wonderful which the Lord does. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we are joined to Christ through faith in His death. The Holy Spirit applies the work of the Cross to our lives and so we experience Jesus as the lover of our soul. This work of Christ leads to an intimate relationship and rejoicing in God’s goodness and kindness. 

God’s Blessing 
Rev David O'Mara 

 

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Scripture alone

Dear Friends,
This is our third talk on the reformation and focuses on the Bible alone. Alister McGrath, noted theologian says that the reformation dethroned the pope as the ultimate authority and enthroned the Bible. In Europe in the 16th Century the church and the Pope were the ultimate authorities for the interpretation of Scripture. Erasmus in 1517 translated the Greek New Testament and this reflected a movement in society to go back to original sources. As people went back to the original sources they saw that some of the translations of the Vulgate, which was the Latin translation of the Bible were wrong. For example in Matthew 4:17 the Vulgate translation said “From that time on Jesus began to preach ,”Do penance for the kingdom of heaven is near.” But the original Greek word was to do with repentance which is a radical turn from sin and turn to God. Penance embraced the idea of what we do to get right with God but the Gospel taught that it is what Christ has done and our role is to respond and receive what Christ has done. Another problematic translation was Luke 1:28 which the Vulgate described Mary as full of grace. But the original Greek indicates that she is a favoured one. This means that Mary is not a source of grace but a recipient of grace. On the basis of the Vulgate some Christians developed a false view of praying to Mary for help. In 2 Timothy 3:15 we learn that the Scriptures, that is God’s Word can make us wise for salvation. Paul states that all of God’s Word is inspired by God 3:16 and so we can have confidence that as we listen to the Word of God , God himself speaks to us through this word. In fact God’s Word has a transformative power to correct and train us in righteousness. Friends all the resources needed for Christian growth are contained within God’s Word. We also learn that in 3:17 that God’s Word trains us and directs us to do good works. The purpose of the Bible is to help us know the Lord and learn how to walk with Him and serve Him. The passage for the evening service is 2 Peter 1:12-21. Peter believes that 1:14-15 that it won’t be long before he leaves this world and goes to be with the Lord. Christian tradition says that Peter was put to death during the Nero persecutions before AD 65. He is seeking to strengthen the Christians that he writes to and the basis for this is to remind them 1:16 that what the apostles are teaching is not made up. Rather God’s Word comes from eyewitnesses who saw Jesus who guided them to proclaim the truth and ensured His Word was kept from error. Indeed Peter was one of them. In 1:20-21 Peter encourages them that the Words they have delivered are from God and can therefore be relied upon for our Christian lives. 

God’s Blessing
Rev David O’Mara 

 

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God’s kindness all the way

Dear Friends,
We continue our series on the reformation and this week we are looking at the topic of grace alone. Our morning passage is Ephesians 2:1-10. Paul has just prayed a prayer in Ephesians 1:15-22 that the Christians would know God better. Paul recognises that this spiritual insight only comes through the work of the Spirit and the power of the Gospel.Growing in your faith and understanding of God involves God’s power as He brings new life. In 2:1-3 Paul reminds us that before Christ came into our lives we were spiritually dead and disobedient. Recognising our hopeless situation that we can’t save ourselves Paul brings a message of hope that what we can’t do God has done in Christ. The whole reason that Jesus saves us is not based on anything we do or any merit in our lives. It is totally a work of God which is based on His love and an expression of His grace. The word grace is about God’s love and help towards us even though we don’t deserve it. Unless we understand how incredibly lost and dead we are without Christ we won’t appreciate the depth of God’s great love in Christ. In 2:8-10 Paul teaches us that whilst Christ has done everything necessary for salvation it needs to be received personally by faith. Notice that the whole basis for doing good works is a response to the grace and salvation we have already received. This is very important because many people are trapped in a belief that to get close to God they must do good works. This passage shows us that we can’t do good works without God’s grace received by faith. The great hope is that God saves us and gives us good works to do. God has a purpose for your life. The key purpose is to know Him and then this leads to serving Him within the church and within the world ! Our evening passage is Luke 18:9-14. It is the famous parable of the tax collector and the pharisee. It is also a story about God’s grace. The Pharisee seeks to justify himself by saying how he is better than other people whereas the tax collector knows that he has failed God and calls out to God for mercy. Humbling yourself and knowing you deserve nothing from God is a beautiful place to be. Jesus says that it was the tax collector who went home justified before God. He was justified , meaning that he was accepted and acquitted of judgement by God because he humbled himself and depended on God’s mercy alone. That is grace alone ! John Calvin, 16th C reformer says that faith brings a person empty to God. Depending on God’s grace alone builds confidence and security because you look to what Jesus has done not what you do yourself. 

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Turned on

Dear Friends,
Today we welcome James and Brittany Daymond who are serving with BCA in Narromine. They are our link missionaries and we thank the Lord for the opportunity to meet them and hear what the Lord is doing. Paul is greatly encouraged that the Gospel of Jesus was powerfully received by the Thessalonian Christians.One of the signs that the message of Jesus has been truly received is that it comes with deep conviction v5. Another sign of authenticity in true believers is that they don’tgive up when persecution and opposition for the faith comes v6. They also have strength from the Holy Spirit to keep going to serve the Lord Jesus. Further in v2-3 the power to serve God comes through ongoing faith in Jesus and his word. The motivation for serving God is love. A Christian is not driven by guilt but knows that through Christ’s death for their sins they are deeply loved and accepted. This leads to endurance meaning that a genuine Christian doesn’t give up because they have the hope of eternal life now and being with Jesus forever and this is what we look forward to. We know that Gospel preaching was a priority for Paul but the truth of God needed 

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5 important letters F.a.i.t.h.

Dear Friends,
During the month of October we will be remembering the 500th anniversary of the Reformation as marked by the event of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg calling for the reformation of the church. Today Ian Cathers will be preaching on faith alone in the morning and in the evening. Separate from the sermon we will share a brief background of 4 great reformers except for Sunday 8 Oct when we will be hosting James and Brittany Daymond from BCA Narromine. The passage this morning is Galatians 3:1-14. Paul is addressing the church who are being tempted to move away from trusting Christ alone for salvation. Paul reminds them that they received the Holy Spirit by trusting in Christ rather than observing the law. In other words the Spirit is a gift received by faith.The problem is that the Christians think that their status before God is based on their works. In 3:6 he reminds them of Abraham who was credited as righteous before God because of faith. Salvation in the Old Testament was by faith and so it still is with Christ. Paul reinforces this and says that we are not declared right before God by observing the law but the key is faith. Faith is not some mystical quality but explains what we trust in. For example we can either have faith in Jesus to save us or in ourselves. Our faith is explained by what we put our trust in.The letter of Galatians was very much loved by Luther and it was from here as well as Romans that he found the teaching of salvation being a gift received by faith as powerful. When he wrote his theses against church corruption he particularly attacked the practise of indulgences whereby people thought they could be made right with God by paying money to church and not by faith alone. When urged to retract his teachings he said “If, then I am not convinced by proof from Holy Scripture … and if my judgement is not in this way brought into subjection to God’s Word, I neither can nor will retract anything … I stand here and can say no more.” Strong stuff ! 

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