Let us continue with your sermon from 11th October:
"Some have rejected this faith....rejected all this, and so have shipwrecked their faith. He said, 'Let me mention to you, Hymenaeus and Alexander.' Oooh! Whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme! Pooof! I bet you say, 'I'm glad I haven't got a pastor like that!' Hands people over to Satan to sort them out! (Blows mocking raspberry!) I'd be out on my ear, wouldn't I - if I thought like that? Well, that's how Paul talked, and that was God's Word. Back to this business of commands. No messing about. 'I hand them over.' This comes up quite often in Scripture - people who have shipwrecked their faith, who are causing so much damage! Even blocking others from coming into the kingdom! Paul has said: 'I've handed them over to Satan. Always in the hope that they will repent. There was a case like that, wasn't there, in Corinthians. Am I right? In one of the letters. Where Paul commanded the church to expel somebody from the church, handed them over to Satan - that they might come to repentance, to realise the state they were in. And then Paul, in a later letter, writes and says, 'And when they do repent, make sure you are a church that welcomes them back.' For Jesus does, when they repent. Don't keep the door shut on them forever. Welcome them back - into the fellowship...…"
So, I hope readers have clearly noticed Roger's version of the Law & the points he makes:
Roger says here that we are not to preach the Law when unbelievers come into CalvaryBaptist Church. "A law that doesn't save but just knocks everybody down....the (transformed) person won't say.....I went to church on Sunday and the bloke laid the law down"
Roger says that preaching the Law will make people "probably TEN TIMES WORSE." The Bible doesn't say this anywhere. This is adding to the Word of God.
However, the Scripture itself tells us that the Law is for the unrighteous non-believers: 1 Tim. 1v8 - "But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted."
Many a great evangelist has used the Law to lead the unrighteous to the Gospel of Grace but Paul was inspired to write of the most important thrust of the gospel message in 1 Cor. 1v22-25: For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Roger tells us on the 11th October 98 that we are to "present the gospel of Jesus Christ, that transforming act of Jesus upon the cross....Now that's the gospel that we preach. And somewhere along the line I don't think we're getting that across to Canton. We want sinners to come to this church. We want sinners to meet with the Lord Jesus Christ and be transformed" We all know this is true, but what did Roger do (see 15th November 98)?
Roger tells us that anyone who preaches the Law should be removed: 'Look, people are in the church - and they're preaching the Law.... Get these people out of the church that are coming in with a false gospel. Because they will have harm on the work that you've got to do. Command these people to stop preaching a false gospel. Get into tune with the gospel or get out."
How did Roger say we should remove them?: "No messing about.....hand them over (to Satan).... people who have shipwrecked their faith, who are causing so much damage! Even blocking others from coming into the kingdom!"
In your evening sermon of 22nd November 98, you made it absolutely clear where you believe your gifting lies and these are your words with regard to reaching lost sheep (who you made clear have priority for your time over established church members):
"...my main gift is evangelism - it always has been. Because my desire is that people might know Jesus (shouting!). It's not to be a pastor, it's not really to be a preacher. It's to be an evangelist. When hands were laid on me all those years ago, when I came into the ministry, I had prayers laid on for me (sic), to be an evangelist! And I believe that's my calling and I must get on with it and I mustn't be sidetracked from that, for I have a passion that people come to Jesus Christ, because if they don't come to Jesus Christ they're going to Hell. But what I do want is a group of people who are passionate with me to believe that they are going - not that they're going to Hell (embarrassed laughter from Wheelhouse, akin to 'Toronto' humour!) - but other people are going to Hell"
So we cannot be mistaken that you believe that your number one priority is as an evangelist and to bring people to Jesus Christ. From the evidence of your sermon of the 11th October you say this does not mean preaching the Law - for this saves no one but makes people worse ("possibly TEN times worst!") but you must "present the gospel of Jesus Christ, that transforming act of Jesus upon the cross."
So let us go to the baptismal service of the 15th November 98 where we had many non-believers in the church. Marilyn read from John 10v1-15 - which makes an ideal introduction to the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. So, what did you do with it?
"Let's start with what we all know about. Because I don't think there is one person that's here this morning whether a regular at this church, or visitors, that hasn't heard of the Ten Commandments! Would I be right? Not one person here this morning, young or old, that hasn't heard of the Ten Commandments - those rules & regulations for living that were given to Moses when the people crossed the Red Sea? Whether you could name any of them - is another matter. You might know about them - but could you name any of them? And could you, this morning, stand up and recite them in order? Emmm! Getting harder isn't it? We know about them - we know they exist. We may name some of them - but whether we'd be able to recite them in order. If your looking at me to see whether I could do it - I'm not sure if I could either.
When Jesus was on earth he was met by a teacher of the Law who came to Him and said, 'Of all the commandments, which is the most important?' Now, I'm not sure, but you might have expected Jesus to have taken the Ten Commandments and put them in some sort of grade order, wouldn't you? When somebody comes and says, 'Well, Jesus, which is the most commandments (sic) - you know, I know there's Ten of them - but which one would you put top - and down? And Jesus didn't answer like that - He didn't grade them - He simplified the whole thing. He said, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second is this - love your neighbour as yourself. There's no greater commandment than these.' So what He's done is simplified them and said, 'Love the Lord your God and love your neighbour as yourself.'
Well, when I started to listen to what Jesus was saying I thought - let's go on a journey. And let's sort of, sort out in our minds this morning what commandments did Jesus give? We know the commandments that Moses gave - well what are the commandments Jesus gave? Do you know any of them? I actually, in researching for this morning, found sixteen - commandments of Jesus. I guess I haven't found them all. And some of you are quite entitled afterwards to come up & say, 'Well, I think you missed this one, and I think you missed that one - you might find a lot more. But I found sixteen. Well, what shall we make the first one. I'm going to start with the one where Jesus started where He started His ministry. And it's recorded in Mark's gospel - the kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the Good News. I think I'm going to make that Jesus' number one. Repent means turn your back on your sin - turn away from your sin, to this new life and believe in what Jesus has done for you. Believe that He's come to forgive you and to give you new life. So, Number One, I've made repent, and believe the Good News. Then, on my little journey with Jesus, I saw Him intermingling with the crowd. And I saw Him then speak to various people, many of whom listened to Him and followed Him, and He said these words, 'Come, follow Me.' So the first one I've made is - repent and believe the Good News; Number Two, 'Come, follow Me.'
Well, let's continue on our journey with Jesus - and imagine that we're with Him for these three years - 'cos that was the length of time He was on earth. And imagine that we're building up these commandments. We're noting them down!
Number Three - and I'm just going to list them, I'm not going to explain each one or else we'll be here to tea-time tonight. I'll just list them as I've found them: 'Do not worry about your life, what you eat, or where.'
Number Four - 'Do not store up for yourself treasure in earth (sic), but treasure in heaven.'
Number Five - 'Go, sell everything you have, and give it to the poor, and then you'll have treasure in heaven.'
Number Six - 'Do not swear at all, either by heaven, or by earth.' Now I will make a comment about that one - because, being for many years a school-teacher, and looking at commandments with school-children, I used to say, 'Can you remember any of the commandments - going back to the Ten Commandments.' And you can guarantee that a child will stand up in your class and say, 'Yes Sir, I know one of them - do not swear.' And it isn't actually there - in the first TEN! But it's here in this one. Do not swear - not that it makes a lot of difference when you listen to language in the High Street - but that's another matter. 'Do not swear at all - either by heaven, or by the earth.'
Number Seven - 'Do not resist an evil person - if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also?' Hey, you know, I'm looking at you - you know them don't you? You are - I can see it, I can see the light is dawning, that you've actually heard these Commandments of Jesus.
Number Eight - 'Forgive, and you'll be forgiven.'
Number Nine - 'Love each other, As I have loved you .'
Number Ten - 'Do not judge or you'll be judged' - so don't you dare turn round and say 'Our minister's making a right mess up of this morning!'
Number Eleven - 'If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.'
Awful lot of personal words there, aren't there. These commands - Jesus saying to His disciples, 'Come, follow Me. This is the sort of life I want you to lead. These are the sort of demands I make upon you. This is the sort of life that I want you to carry through.'
I'm beginning to wonder whether, actually, we are calling disciples - when you listen to some of this stuff. You know, we talk about becoming a Christian - but this is what it's all about - in following Jesus. I've just listed through - so I'll go through - very quickly, again:
Do not worry; do not store up for yourself treasure on earth; go sell everything you have; do not swear; do not resist an evil person; forgive; love each other; do not judge; if your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out! Phew!!!! Whoaw! I can't cope! Imagine having all this lot given you in one go?! Don't come to Calvary again on a Sunday morning! Wow! Pow! Pow! Pow!
And then a practical outworking - 'If you're going to be a disciple of mine - if your going to follow Me' - this is Number Twelve - 'Heal the sick- raise the dead - cleanse those who have leprosy - drive out demons.' A command of Jesus to His disciples! Pwoa! Not doing very well this morning!
And then - added to all that - I've got a Number Thirteen (which takes us back to Number Two): about 'following Me' - 'If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.' There's another COMMAND! Denying ourself, taking up our cross, and following Him.'
Number Fourteen: 'Not everyone who says to Me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven - but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.' So He's saying, 'there's a lot of people going around, calling Me 'Lord' - but they're not doing My will.' Now, there's a demand, a command, of Jesus. If anyone who says to Me 'Lord, Lord' - sorry, let's start again, 'Not everyone who says to Me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven - but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.' Alongside this Jesus says, 'Why do you call Me 'Lord' and don't do what I say?'
Is everyone beginning to get the message? Hope you are - hope I am - beginning to understand something about Jesus calling disciples to follow Him. And what we've got this morning are two people, Ruth & Royston, who have actually repented of their sin, acknowledged that they've sinned, repented of that, put their trust in Jesus - and they indeed are modern-day disciples! Who are saying, 'Yes, we've heard the words, 'Come, follow Me - and they want to follow Jesus.'
Now, they've listened this morning, haven't you, you have listened, haven't you? - to those commands that Jesus makes upon your life. I want to say to you, you are probably, in some of them, doing better than me! Yes, better than me! But I want to tell you in some of them I'm probably doing better than you! And I've got a feeling there are people here this morning who are taking some of those commands and they're saying, 'I'm doing well on that one - Oh, but I'm not doing so well on that one. Oh, but Ruth's doing better on that one, than me! You see the thing is - we're all on a journey. And on this journey of following Jesus Christ - some of us on the journey are tackling some things better than others. And we're all at different stages - but on this journey there is need for further improvement. Shall I tell you why there's need for further improvement? Because I've got a Number Fifteen - 'be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.' I'm not there - Jesus I haven't got to Number Fifteen. And He's saying, 'No, but - in your heart - you'll aim and I'll help you. And that's your aim, that's your goal. For Ruth and for Royston the demand, the command of Jesus upon them this morning is 'be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect. That's a tall order - but don't give up! Don't say I can't possibly get there - so I might as well not bother. Aim for it! Make it a goal! And it's lovely in life to have a goal - isn't it? It's lovely to have that.
Well, let's go back to Number Fourteen - 'Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven.'
I want to tell you something about these two guys - they came to me because they said, 'We want to do the will of our Father in heaven.' And I said, well if you want to do His will, what is He asking you to do next. And they said, 'Be baptised. We believe that it's His will that we be baptised.'
You see, they've already become Christians, they've already repented and believed the Good News. Royston did - Ruth did. But they're wanting to go on with listening to the commands of Jesus - the demands that He makes upon their lives. They want to do His will - and they hear the words about baptism. You see, they've read up Mark 16v16 - "Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved.' Now that puts a serious issue on baptism. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved - that's Marks' gospel. And they can't just say, 'Oh, I'm not accepting that one. I'll chuck that verse out for a start off. And then hunt around to find some other ones to chuck out. No, they know that it's a serious issue - baptism is a serious issue. In doing the will of the Father, in obeying His word. And as they came to me they said, 'Well, let's explore baptism together.' And we saw that Jesus was baptised, that Jesus baptised new disciples, that Jesus' final words were 'All authority on (sic) heaven and on earth has been given to Me, therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.'
Ah, we're back to where we've been - all morning! About obeying what the Lord had commanded us to do. And then, in their studies, they saw Peter on the day of Pentecost, and Peter said repent & be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the Holy Spirit. They've seen the gospel package! Repent, be baptised - for your forgiveness and for the Holy Spirit. There, in the book of Acts, and they couldn't argue with it. They studied through the reports of the early church - and they saw that every Christian got baptised. And they said, 'Oh, we can't find two types of Christians - those that believing in Jesus Christ and not baptised, and those that believe in Jesus Christ and are baptised.' They said, 'Every person that we've found in the early church who became a Christian got baptised.' Click, click. 'What's preventing us - we want to be baptised, we want to do the will of our Father in heaven. We have no reason why we shouldn't.' And if they were standing here this morning.....they would want to cry with me this morning - 'My dear friends, what reason have you got to go against the demand and command of the Lord Jesus Christ upon your life. I'm not interested in your tradition, in your background. I'm more interested in what the Word of God says. And I'm more interested that if you truly say I want to follow Jesus Christ, that you actually, this morning, obey His commands. For long enough you've given excuses why you shouldn't obey what He says.
'Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the will of My Father in heaven?' The will of Almighty God this morning, for you, is to believe and be baptised. That's God's will for you. To follow in the footsteps of Ruth and Royston. The day has come where we cease to make excuses - the day has come when we cease to come to Calvary, Sunday by Sunday, putting up reasons why we shouldn't obey the will of the Father. You see, as I looked at this, I realised that I've got no reason why I shouldn't follow this through. And I want to suggest to you that after this service, if you now know that God is speaking to you - that you have no reason not to be baptised, then see me....talk to one of the deacons.....because we would like to know who of you wants to be baptised.
Know that, this morning, God is saying to you, to take that step - to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and to be baptised. Well, a little bit of theology we ought to mention, hadn't we, Ruth & Royston, 'cause we mentioned it in our class. "We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead, to the glory of the Father, we too, may live a new life."
They're being buried - but they're going to be raised to life. Significant of what Jesus did and of what He wants us to do. Identifying with that. Being buried - the old life. That's why they're going down one lot of steps and coming up the other. Don't turn round and come up the same steps - alright? 'Cause we said you're on a journey, and your journey is to go down these steps to be buried - and we like you, so we will bring you back up again! Alright - and bring you up and take you up those steps - on in your journey.
What did I say - 16 commands - I've given 15, haven't I?.....what's the 16th?....."No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
Royston, Ruth - if you want to serve Jesus Christ, if you want to serve in His kingdom, don't look back. Alright? Because the Word says, "your not fit for service." If you start out - and your looking at one who many times has wanted to turn back, 'cause life is tough, church life's tough! You know it, I'm sure, you don't need me to tell you. Life, in all of it's variety, and all - it's tough. It's always a temptation to give up, to turn back. But listen - no one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.
I read this verse in Hebrews: "Therefore, let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity." Do you know what these elementary teachings are? Not laying again the foundation of repentance, have faith in God, instruction about baptism, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, eternal judgment. The writer to the Hebrews says, "they're elementary truths" It's time you got hold of those, understood them, and go ON! Go forward beyond those things.
That's a wonderful verse. And I want to say to you - I'm going to come down to you now and say, 'Look, this is a community thing.' In you, doing the will of God, and going forward with Him, your not alone. Right Royston - your not alone. Your not alone, Ruth. I'm not asking you to turn round and look at these frightful people, right? But if you turn round and looked at them, they are here supporting you! Because we at Calvary are family! And this is a community thing. Of course I could have hidden you away in some bath, somewhere - just us together! But that destroys what it's all about - we're going forward together. And you're taking a step forward in your Christian life in commitment to Jesus Christ this morning and we, as a fellowship, saying, 'We support you!' We're going with you. We're going to lift you up in prayer. We're going to support you in practical terms.....love you....care for you. And we're here this morning to witness that fact, that you're doing it in our midst! So it becomes a public affair, so that we might go forward together. A community activity! A witnessing of the faith together!.......HYMN!