Archives For Sermon/Teaching

Luke 24.13-35

I. THREE THOUGHTS TAUGHT BY THIS GOSPEL.

luther1. This Gospel brings out and enforces especially three thoughts on the article of faith concerning Christ’s resurrection. First, that this narrative transpired and was written along with others as a sure witness and proof of our faith in this article of our Creed. First, in that we see these two disciples leave the company of the others, full of unbelief in the resurrection. They commune together about the things that transpired as if they despair of Christ, and he is now dead and forever buried in their hearts, who does nothing more and is unable to do anything. This appears from their own confession where they say: “We hoped that it was he who should redeem Israel. Yea, and besides this, it is now the third day since he is dead.” And though they had heard from the women that these had seen a vision of angels who told them that Christ had risen and was alive, yet they urged that he had not been seen or found by anyone. In the second place–and this is the most important fact–we here see Christ not only showing himself alive to the unbelieving disciples, so that they might become assured of his resurrection and return at once to announce it to the others, and to hear the same truth from them, the testimony on both sides agreeing and being thereby established; but also that Christ, before they knew him, proved fully and clearly from the Scriptures that it behooved Christ both to die and to rise again from the dead. For this reason he upbraided them for their unbelief because they ought to have known the Scriptures concerning Christ, since he himself had taught them that his sufferings were foretold in the Scriptures.

2. The second thought this Gospel presents is an example of the power and fruit of the resurrection as manifested in these two disciples while they are talking of him and listening to his preaching. This also is nothing less than a portion of the proof of his resurrection. For Christ here proves by word and deed that he is not dead, as they believed before, but works in them and exercises his power through the Word, even before they know him, and makes believers of them who have another mind, reason, heart, and will. This they also recognize and confess, saying: “Was not our heart burning within us while he spake to us, etc?” After this manner he still works in the whole Christian church; though unseen, he yet carries on his work and shows his dominion in that, as the living Lord, he enlightens them through his Word, comforts and strengthens them, defends them with his power and keeps them against the wrath of the devil and the world.

3. As a third truth, we are here shown in what manner Christ reveals his resurrection, and how it may be be known and apprehended, namely, above all first through the Word and faith, rather than through bodily vision or sensation. Therefore he is unknown to them at first when he comes to them and walks with them, though he is with them in very truth, the selfsame Christ whom they had so often seen and heard and known full well. Yet now they do not know him at all, because they know that he had died and had been buried the third day before; and hence can think of him only as a dead man. So strange and unknowable had he become to them that they would not have known him, had he stayed with them ever so long, until he announced to them his resurrection and preached about it. The text says: “Their eyes were holden, that they should not know him.” It was not he who had been changed, nor was it his will to remain unknown to them, but their hearts and thoughts had become estranged and far removed from his. In the same way neither Magdalene nor the other disciples recognized him until they had heard the Word of his resurrection.

4. His purpose is to show and teach us that the power of his resurrection and dominion will be exercised here on earth, and manifest itself in this life only through the Word, and through faith which holds fast to Christ, though it does not see him, and thus conquers sin and death in him, lays hold of righteousness and life, etc. This is a brief summary of the story contained in this Gospel, in so far as it pertains to the article of faith on the resurrection in general; of which we lately heard more.

5. But the special purpose of this Gospel is to show us how weak in faith the disciples were, and how Christ in his kingdom manifests himself to such persons of weak faith, and how he deals with them. For we see from the whole story of Christ’s resurrection, as recorded in the Gospels, how the Apostles, and all the other disciples after them, were so weak in their faith in this doctrine, even to the time of his ascension, that he had to upbraid them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them that had seen him after he was risen, Mk 16, 14. They manifested this weakness, though he had often told them from the Scriptures that he must be crucified and rise again on the third day, etc.

6. From this we learn, in the first place, that even in those who have become true Christians, weakness and frailties remain, especially in the deeper matters of doctrine and faith, they being unable to understand them or to grasp them as firmly and strongly as they ought. For faith is not so light or easy a matter as ignorant and inexperienced people fancy, and as our coarse blockheads, the popish dunces, pretend, who believe that faith is no more than to have heard the history and to know it. Having heard or read just once what the Gospel tells of Christ, these people fancy that they have fully understood and believed it, and henceforth need no longer to learn and believe it.

7. That this is naught but an idle, vain fancy, is proved by their own confession that this knowledge of the Bible story rests in their hearts as a cold, lifeless thing, a mere empty husk, lacking all life-giving power, of no use or help to them, neither giving strength nor making them better; whereas this great, exalted miracle of Christ’s resurrection was peformed and is to be preached, learned, and known, to the end that it may be fruitful in us, quicken and kindle our hearts, and work in us new thoughts, new knowledge, new forces, life, joy, comfort and strength. If this does not take place, the story has been heard in vain, and is dead within you, being of nor more value to you than to Turks and heathen who have never heard it, or have not believed it to be true. You dare not boast of faith, though froth on your tongue, or a sound in your ears, or a dream in your memory give witness that you have heard the story, of which your heart has neither experienced nor tasted aught. The papists show plainly, in all their doctrine and life, that they do not from their hearts believe and hold fast to this article of faith, because they seek the power and effect which ought to come from the resurrection of Christ in themselves and outside of Christ, teaching that it must be sought and obtained through their own works and merits, while they condemn, blaspheme, and persecute the saving doctrine that tells us to turn from these foolish lies to Christ and to the power of his resurrection.

8. Christians, however, and true believers know by sad experience in others as well as in themselves how weak they are, and they deplore the fact that they are unable to grasp this doctrine, or to hold it fast in their hearts with as strong a faith as they ought. Their entire life is spent in combating this weakness, as even Paul says in Phil 3, 12, that he had not grasped it, nor was already made perfect, but that he was pressing on, if so be that he might lay hold of it, and obtain a knowledge of the power of Christ’s resurrection, etc.

Read it all.

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.” James 2:19

edwardsHow do you know if you belong to God? We see in these words what some people depend on as an evidence of their acceptance with God. Some people think that they are all right before God if they are not as bad as some evil person. Other people point to their family history or church membership to show that God approves of them. There is an evangelism programme in common use that asks people certain questions. One of the questions is, “Suppose you were to die today. Why should God let you into his heaven?” A very common response is, “I believe in God.” Apparently the apostle James knew people who said the same thing: I know I am in God’s favor, because I know these religious doctrines.

Of course James admits that this knowledge is good. Not only is it good, but it is also necessary. Nobody can be a Christian who doesn’t believe in God; and more than that, the One True God. This is particularly true for those who had the great advantage of actually knowing the apostle, someone who could tell them of his first-hand experience with Jesus, the Son of God. Imagine the great sin of a person, who knew James, and then refused to believe in God! Certainly this would make their damnation greater. Of course, all Christians know that this belief in the One God is only the start of good things because “anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Heb. 11:6.)

However, James is clear that although this belief a good thing, it is definitely not proof that a person is saved. What he means is this: “You say you are a Christian and you are in God’s favor. You think God will let you into heaven, and the proof of it is, you believe in God. But that is no evidence at all, because the demons also believe, and they are sure to be punished in hell.” The demons believe in God, you can be sure of that! They not only believe that He exists, but they believe that God is a holy God, a sin-hating God, a God of truth, who has promised judgments, and who will carry out his vengeance upon them. This is the reason the demons “shudder” or tremble- they know God more clearly than most human beings do, and they are afraid. Nevertheless, nothing in the mind of man, that devils may experience as well, is any sure sign of God’s grace in our hearts.

This reasoning may be easily turned around. Suppose demons could have, or find within themselves, something of God’s saving grace-proof they would go to heaven. This would prove James wrong. But how absurd! The Bible makes it clear that demons have no hope of salvation, and their believing in God does not take away their future punishment. Therefore believing in God is not proof of salvation for demons, and it is safe to say, not for people, either.

Read it all.

edwardsGod exercises His sovereignty in the eternal salvation of men.

He not only is sovereign, and has a sovereign right to dispose and order in that affair; and He not only might proceed in a sovereign way, if He would, and nobody could charge him with exceeding His right; but He actually does so; he exercises the right which He has. In the following discourse, I propose to show,

I. What is God’s sovereignty.
II. What God’s sovereignty in the salvation of men implies.
III. That God actually doth exercise his sovereignty in this matter.
IV. The reasons for this exercise.

Read it all.

An exhortation from the clergy of St. Andrew’s Church, Mount Pleasant; Park Circle, North Charleston; Goose Creek; and City Church, Charleston – preached on all campuses this morning: 

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16.33)

On Sept 15, 1963 a bomb was detonated inside an Alabama church killing four little girls. One bystander was reported to have cried out, “My God, you’re not even safe in church!” And though the words were uttered over fifty years ago, the anguished cry of that particular bystander could have, and very likely was uttered in the hearts of many a man, woman, and child as we collectively came to terms with the terror done in downtown Charleston. “My God,” you might have said, “you’re not even safe in church.” And you’re right. Terrible, senseless evil can happen even in church. But dear friends, we must admit, some churches are less safe than others.

A church was bombed in Birmingham on Sept 15, 1963. But it wasn’t just any church that was bombed. It was a black church that was bombed. Segregated churches seem like something that should be a legacy of the past but sadly they are not. Here in North America Christian people of all races have failed to fully realize the words of the Apostle Paul when he wrote to the Ephesian Christians:

Christ himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility . . . that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God through the cross thereby killing the hostility.

Through some spiritual defect, and deep indwelling sin, our sad racial divisions are every bit as evident this Sunday morning as they were five decades ago. Because we have failed to come together, we cannot simply say a Christian church was terrorized last Wednesday night, but a black Christian church. And this is surely cause for prayer, confession, and repentance before God our and neighbor.

There is something else we must bring up, if we are to be honest before God and before our neighbor. Fifty years ago – within the living memory of many of us gathered this morning – black people were terrorized throughout this country. This was particularly true in the South. Many of us would like to believe that such bigoted violence is some relic of the past, but surely the events of the past year have shown this not to be the case. And in case anyone remains unconvinced, it wasn’t five decades ago, but five days ago, that a young white man wandered into a black church because, and I quote, he “wanted to shoot black people.”

Of the victims of the bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Martin Luther King Jr. simply said: “They died between the sacred walls of the church of God. And they were discussing the eternal meaning of love.” Surely we could say the same of our neighbors who were murdered last Wednesday night at Emanuel AME Church. And we could say the same of us, that we are here between the sacred walls of the church of God, discussing the eternal meaning of love.

And yet there is at least one difference. We are alive. Not only are we alive, but as a predominantly white church, we have (most likely) never known the terror of predominantly black churches such as Johnson Grove Baptist TN, or Mt. Zion AME SC, or Little Mt. Zion Church in AL, or Cypress Grove Baptist Church in LA, or St. Paul CME in MS, and countless other predominantly black churches which were victims of violent, racist attacks within the past fifteen years. “My God,” you might say, “you’re not even safe in church.” And you’re right. Terrible, senseless evil can happen even in church. But friends, some churches are less safe than others.

Here we are, discussing as King so eloquently put it the “eternal meaning of love,” and we must ask: What does love require of us? Or to put it more pointedly, what debt of love do we owe to our blood bought brothers and sisters in Christ and neighbors made in God’s own image who are vulnerable and still subject to much violence and systemic oppression? What do we owe our “less safe” brothers and sisters? To put it quite simply, friends, what will you and I do about this? I would ask each and every member of St. Andrew’s, in Goose Creek, North Charleston, City Church, and Mount Pleasant to bring this very question before the Lord.

And while we wait for His guidance there are nevertheless things that may be done.

We will pray.

We will certainly do this. We will pray today for our city, for our churches, and especially for those of us most vulnerable. And I would ask you to be mindful of opportunities to pray with the broader Christian community in Charleston – and I respectfully ask for your humble and reverent participation in prayer vigils as they are announced and shared on social media.

We will repent.

Surely each of us has things that we must repent of in regards to such matters. Some must repent of racism. Some must repent of cowardice. Some must repent of ambivalence, but each of us must repent. And I humbly ask each of you to come before the Lord and do business with Him that you may receive grace and healing.

We will help.

We will begin helping today by giving. The immediate request before the Charleston community is for financial assistance for the families of those killed. Our cash offering this morning will be donated in full to the Mother Emmanuel Hope fund, a fund established to offer support to the families victimized by this tragic evil. If you were not prepared this morning to give we will accept your offerings through the week and we will pass them on to the Mother Emmanuel Hope Fund.

Beyond this, we will seek the guidance of our African American brothers and sisters in our own congregations, as well as African American church leadership in our community. We will seek their guidance on how they believe we may best stand with them in the coming days in response to this evil. And I believe it is important that we learn to stand with this community on other issues where African Americans are unfairly made vulnerable and victimized by unjust structures. I humbly ask for your prayers, your wisdom, your ideas, and your support as we seek to understand how best to do this and when the time comes, I humbly ask for your support and action.

Finally, and most importantly, we will lift up Him who died for us, Jesus Christ the Son of God. The Apostle Paul reminds us that it is only the Gospel that is the power of God unto salvation. We will continue to clearly present the Gospel in our churches, setting forth the power of God that delivers human beings from the bondage of sin, hate and hostility and reconciles them back to God and their neighbors. This Gospel, the power of God, has been at work not only changing the eternal fabric of heaven but also the temporal fabric of earth.

Unthinkable progress has been made towards racial reconciliation in the past half century done in no small part to the power of the Gospel at work in the Christian church. The national media reporting on the citizens of Charleston’s response reflect the fruit of the Gospel on display in our city’s life. The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial entitled, “A Bow to Charleston.” A Philadelphia paper’s headline simply read, “The Grace Card.” We have come far and we have made progress. Last Wednesday is surely a devastating setback. But setbacks, even devastating ones, ought not deter God’s people. As Dr. King also said:

There is something at the very center of our faith which reminds us that Good Friday may reign for a day, but ultimately it must give way to the triumphant beat of the Easter drums.

Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, I ask you to take heart, to have faith, to muster up your courage, to preach the Gospel, to lend a hand, and do not be discouraged. In this world, we will certainly have tribulation. But Christ has overcome the world. And with this hope, we boldly prepare to serve Him in these days in which He has called us.

Amen

 

Worth the read:

For forty days, the sign out front has read, “Christ is risen. Alleluia!” Now it’s time to change it, and the other day I was wondering if there was something “Ascensiony” to put there. My first fleeting thought turned out to be inappropriate: “Christ is gone. Alleluia!”

Yet isn’t that the way we treat the Ascension? Christ is gone, so we can live as we please.

Christ is gone, and so His Word can be ignored.

Christ is gone, and we must make our own way.

Christ is gone, but He has left us rules. -OR- Christ is gone, but He taught us to throw away all rules.

But then also, Christ is gone, and so we have no comfort. Christ is gone, and we are left with ourselves – our brokenness, our misery, our failures. Christ is gone, and we have replaced him with constitutions and bylaws, synods and programs, social causes and feel-good music. Yet it all fails, and we are left empty, and finally, alone.

And there is something horrible about being alone . . . 

Read the rest.

simeon-trust-e1417031889985-270x250Please join me for a workshop on Biblical exposition put on by the Charles Simeon Trust and hosted by St. Andrew’s in Mount Pleasant, next month, May 20-22.

We know that the Gospel is the “power of God unto salvation” (Rom 1.16) and that a major part of our effectiveness in ministry depends upon the proclamation of the Gospel in the preached word.  As a central part of our ministry, it is no surprise that there is a desire amongst many of us to grow in our preaching abilities.  And yet, I have heard from so many clergy that there are few opportunities for clergy to get training to really grow in this area.  For that reason, I am pleased to host this workshop.  This workshop will be run by an organization world renowned for it’s quality, and commitment to training excellent preachers.  The leader of the workshop, The Revd Mike Cain (Church of England) is the Rector of Emmanuel Bristol at Westbury, a church planter and author.  Our focus will be Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.  At the workshop participants will

Improve their expository preaching skills

Prepare a sermon series on a portion of Ephesians

Encourage and strengthen one another in the ministry of Gospel proclamation

I do hope you can join us as we seek to grow together in our ability to preach the Gospel.

To register for the workshop click here and make sure to click the proper registration link for the event at St. Andrew’s Church in Charleston, S.C.

Questions about the event? click here.

 

 

Ashley Null lecturing at The Ridley Institute

Ashley Null lecturing at The Ridley Institute

  • Lecturer: Dr. Ashley Null
  • Thursday evening, February 19 and Friday, February 20
  • Free

The Anglican Diocese of the Carolinas will host Dr. Ashley Null for a two-day teaching on The Five Solas (Sola = alone. Christ Alone. Grace Alone. Faith Alone.  Scripture Alone. God’s Glory Alone) at St. Andrew’s Church. This event is free and open to all.

Ashley Null, both the Theological Advisor for the Diocese of the Carolinas and the Senior Research Fellow for the Ridley Institute, will deliver five lectures.  The lectures will also be available via livestream for those who cannot attend in person at TheRidleyInstitute.com.

Lecture Schedule

Thursday, February 19

  • 6:00 – 7:00  pm Session 1
  • 7:00-7:15 pm Break
  • 7:15 – 8:15 pm Session 2

Friday, February 20

  • 9:00 – 10:00 am Session 3
  • 10:00-10:15 am  Break
  • 10:15-11:15 am Session 4
  • 11:15-11:20 am Break
  • 11:20 – 12:20 am Session 5