Read — 1 John 1:8-10
Message Alan Burke
Some years ago now I remember sitting in a morning midweek having a wee cuppa with some of the older members of the congregation. I had joined them because one of the ladies arrived down to tell me that today wasn’t pavlova or a myriad of different traybakes, today they had home made sausage rolls. The minister I worked with at the time lead us in prayer and took us though a passage, asking questions along the way. I can’t remember how it came up but in conversation I had called myself a sinner and said that they were sinners too. For most of those gathered I had said nothing wrong, but for one lady it was is I had thrown what was left of my cold cup of tea in her face, the rage, it was something akin to the transformation that happened to Dr. Bruce Banner in the incredible Hulk.
I want you to know as you read this that you are a sinner just as I am, and if you don’t like it, you don’t believe it, then you are deceiving yourself and the truth is not in you (8, Rom 3:23). But here is the paradox, if you admit it, face up to the reality that you are a sinner, if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom 10:9). If we do this then we will be saved, that sin no longer stands against us, it has been dealt with. If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from unrighteousness (9).
Here’s the but, but if we fail to see that we are sinners, if we deny that we are sinful and deny our sin, then we deny the ability of Christ to save us. For it is only those who are sinners need a saviour. For those who persist in saying that they have not sinned, that they are not sinners, then the word of God is not in them (10). Sadly there are many even in the church today that say that they are not sinners, that they are not sinful, their attitude their behaviour and it is especially seen when it comes to sexual ethics. And if you think that this problem is just out there, its not in here lets not kid ourselves, sadly this attitude infects the church too, we no longer call sin sin, adultery has become an affair, we don’t steal copyrighted material we just stream it, selfishness is seen as standing up for my rights, and then there is greed, jealously, envy, malice, bitterness, how we can be critical of other believers and show such little forgiveness towards our brothers and sisters the last thing we want to admit is that our attitudes are sinful and that we are sinful.
What we need to remember is that although we are sinners, God in his grace forgives sins, let our old self be crucified with Christ, let us turn from sin and live in that resurrected life, so that we become more like the God whose fellowship we are learning to daily enjoy. Let us live in the light (5,7), live in this way just as Jesus told us to as disciples.
What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, is a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve for God’ s glory and their own good) to all such as keep this commandment. (Deut. 5:16, Eph. 6:2–3)
Read - 2 Corinthians 1v23-2v4
Message - Scott Woodburn
As we have worked our way through these verses we have quickly seen that Paul's integrity and motives had been called into question by his opponents in Corinth. Even a change to his travel plans had given ammunition to those who sought to tarnish the reputation of the Apostle. It seems so petty as we read this letter to think that even a travel itinerary could sow seeds of division in a local fellowship, but are we so different? How often do we assign to someone else the worst possible motives? How often do we make up our minds without hearing every side of the story?
Paul calls God as his witness in the matter (v23a). The Lord knows that Paul's motives were pure. It was to spare the Corinthians that Paul decided not to visit (v23b). Later in the letter Paul speaks of church discipline in the local fellowship. Our forefathers once declared that one of the marks of a true church was the exercise of discipline. It sounds extreme to our modern ears but a church where "anything goes" is no church at all. Paul takes no delight in church discipline, he is not dictator, lording it over the Corinthians (v24a). Instead he wants to work among them for their joy (v24b).
Yet after making a "painful visit" to them, he had no appetite for another one (2v1). He loved the Corinthians and did not wish to cause them more pain, essentially saying "How can I have joy when I have caused you pain?" (v2). Instead Paul wrote them a stern letter (v3a). The number of letters Paul wrote to Corinth is a disputed point. There was a letter that came before 1 Corinthians as we see in 1 Corinthians 5v9. Then we have 1 Corinthians itself. After 1 Corinthians comes the stern letter of which we read here (some argue 1 Corinthians is the stern letter) and finally 2 Corinthians which some argue is actually two letters in one.
Regardless of your opinion on this matter Paul is clear about his intentions. He hoped his letter would cause the Corinthians to address the problems in their fellowship. So much so that when he finally came to them he would not suffer further pain from those who should cause him to rejoice (v3a). Paul did not believe all was lost in Corinth, quite the opposite, he was confident that the congregation would respond to the letter by addressing the difficult issues. This would in turn restore Paul's joy which would be shared by the Corinthians themselves (v3b).
Lest the Corinthians believe that Paul's letter came from a place of malice and score settling, he is clear that the stern letter anguished him and caused him tears but came from a place of deep love for the Corinthians (v4).
We should not be foolish to think dark clouds of division will never roll over our local fellowships. Satan and sin will see brother against brother and sister against sister but, when division comes, all is not lost. The exercise of church discipline sounds negative but always has a positive end in sight. The positive end is repentance and restoration. In days of "cancel culture" one word can cause you to lose everything. The church offers another way, a path that leads to abounding joy in local fellowships across the land as sins are forgiven and relationships restored. We shouldn't be surprised. After all, the church belongs to Jesus.
Q67 Which is the sixth commandment? The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill.
Read - 2 Corinthians 2v5-11
Message - Scott Woodburn
If you ever find yourself in the city of Berlin and take a trip to the Altes Muesem it will be your pleasure to see the Severan Tondo. It is a painting from 200AD and it depicts the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, his wife Julia Domna and their two sons Geta & Caracalla. You'll notice however that Geta's face is missing. Someone took a chisel to the painting, removed Geta's "bake" and rubbed animal excrement where his face used to be. Was he the victim of a modern mob who decided to punish him retrospectively? No. He was the victim of his brother's rage. Later in is his life Geta was murdered by his brother and a "damnatio memoriae" announced. In plain english, Geta's memory was damned and any mention or picture of him was to be removed from polite society.
Such a practice seems to be making a comeback in modern society but in today's passage Paul shows it has no place in the church. Paul has been attacked in Corinth and he has already spent time in this letter defending his ministry and his travel plans. He doesn't make light of these attacks. In a very real way he says the individual in a local church who causes pain, causes pain to the whole body (v5). As we consider such a verse may we consider our own actions in the church which of course belongs to Jesus. We may think that our vendetta is against just one person, but the vendetta will always harm the whole.
What should be done when an individual seeks to cause strife in a local fellowship? As we mentioned last week, discipline should be exercised and the goal of this discipline should always be restoration. This isn't always possible. Often in the modern church the troublesome individual packs up and leaves and refuses to submit to the discipline of the local church. But in Paul's case it would appear that the troublemaker has been punished by the church (v6) and has repented as a result. How do we know this? Because Paul urges the Corinthians to "forgive and comfort" the repentant sinner (v7). He has been disciplined, he has repented and now his spiritual condition is Paul's primary concern. The Apostle doesn't want this individual to be overcome with sorrow (v7b). To avoid this the Corinthians are to show their love for the former troublemaker (v8).
Paul may have been the focus of the attack but he makes clear that if the Corinthians forgive, Paul also forgives. He wants them to be obedient in this matter (v9) understanding that he will not return to Corinth to open old wounds, instead the truly repentant sinner will receive forgiveness and comfort.
The Apostle is no fool. He doesn't want the Corinthians to be outwitted by Satan (v11). Paul knows the designs of the enemy (v11a). Satan thrives on church division. The one who gossips in the church carpark delights the enemy. The one who causes and continues division has Satan cheering them on. The one who refuses any discipline receives a pat on the back from the father of lies. The one who refuses to repent and the one who refuses to forgive help in the devil's cause.
But please Lord God not us! As we sit at the feet of the Apostle this morning may the Word challenge and the Spirit bring change. May we remember that we have been saved by the blood of Christ, becoming members of His church. May we be quick to repent of sowing seeds of division. May we be abundant in forgiveness towards the repentant. May we be wise to Satan's schemes and may we always strive for the unity of the Church.
Q69 What is forbidden in the sixth commandment? The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.
Read - Gen 2:16-17, 3:6, 15, Gal. 3:13
Message - Alan Burke
If you have ever had a choice to make it can be an excruciating thing, like making the decision about to look for a new job, move house, sometimes it doesn’t really matter the choice we make, like what are we going to have for dinner tonight as far as I’m concerned as long as its not tomato pasta it will be grand. Other times there are consequences for our actions, like jumping on car roofs down the street. We thought about freedom on Monday, well Adam was the only man who had true freedom, he had the ability, the freedom to choose either to obey or disobey the ‘Covenant of Life’ that God made with him, God had given our first parents Adam and Eve the ability to choose with absolute freedom of will, God invited man to accept his word.
In return for this simple faith and obedience, God promised to give to Adam a blessing out of all proportion to the little that was required of him. If he would obey he would have everlasting life; he would never die. Not only would this life be everlasting; it would be a more abundant life than Adam originally was given. He would be brought to a state where it would no longer be possible to sin and where he could have fellowship with God all as a result of perfect obedience that was dependant on God’s unmerited favour towards his image bearers. But if Adam did not obey their would be consequences. We know what happened, Adam ate of the tree (Gen 3:6), the consequences we all face to this very day, this world is fallen because of Adam’s first sin and we are slaves to sin. Adam had not obeyed the word of God and as a result there were consequences. Yet scarcely had fallen into sin before God approached Adam in the garden, He promised Adam and Eve that he would send a mighty deliverer and redeemer. In Genesis 3:15 we have God's first revelation of the ‘Covenant of Grace’. God promised man that there would be a conflict between Satan and the seed of the woman and that the seed of the woman would be victorious. "It [a descendant of Eve] shall bruise thy [Satan's] head, and thou [Satan] shalt bruise his [Christ's] heel.”
Even in the beginning God promised to deal with the sin that enslaves us, to bring us into a right relationship with him. How, By his only Begotten son the Lord Jesus Christ, who would take upon Himself our nature (Heb. 2:11-16; Phil. 2:6-8), to live a life of obedience where Adam failed and we all have failed, keeping all the commandments, living by them (Gal. 3:12), and die under the curse that sinful man brought upon himself:“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). Where Adam failed to live according to the Covenant of life our representative head, Christ, the Second Adam, perfectly kept the covenant by obeying God’s perfect law, on behalf of sinners. As Romans 5:18-19 teaches: “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. ”
Which is the seventh commandment?
The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Exod. 20:14)
Read - 2 Corinthians 2v12-13
Message - Scott Woodburn
For some in Corinth Paul couldn't be trusted. He said that he would return to Corinth and yet there was no sign of him. Instead of Paul standing in front of them, they had a letter. Obviously Paul was a man whose yes was no and his no was yes. None of this was true. Why was Paul hindered in his plan to return to Corinth? We already know that he was reluctant to make another painful visit to the church but more light on the circumstances shines in these verses.
Paul arrived in Troas to preach the Gospel (v12a). Troas was the region in the northwest of modern Turkey from where Paul could easily travel to Greece and Corinth. It's clear therefore that Paul's intentions were not duplicitous as some had argued. Instead he would labour in Troas, preaching the Gospel, before making his way across the Aegean Sea to Corinth. What changed his direction? An opportunity to preach Christ in Macedonia was opened for the Apostle (v12b).
Macedonia was far to the north of Corinth and Paul didn't decide to go on a whim. In Acts 16v9-10 we read "And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them." What an exciting opportunity! Churches planted and sinners saved! Yet Paul was not at rest because he was unable to meet with Titus in Troas (v13).
What's the significance of this? Even though Paul's plans were changed by God Himself, Paul's heart was still at Corinth. He hoped Titus would bring good news about the church. Perhaps news about a church full of forgiveness and peace. No such news would come and so it was with excitement but also sadness that Paul went on his way to Macedonia (v13b).
We read such verses and they can seem incidental. We'll not be making a magnet of these verses to put on the fridge and even the most keen of our Facebook friends would struggle to hit "like" for 2 Corinthians 2v12-13. But Paul's love for the church and for the lost shines out here. He hasn't forgotten Corinth despite the barbs and he hasn't forgotten that those who die without Christ go to a lost eternity. Paul's priorities weren't wrong, his motives weren't driven by the flesh, quite the opposite.
Why love the local church? Because with all her faults she is full of individuals for whom Christ died. Why love the lost? Because we know what lies ahead and the necessity of saving faith in Christ. As a church we support individuals and organisations all across the world as they labour for Christ, some in places utterly hostile to the Gospel. May that support continue and increase. May we never cause them to be restless in spirit (v13a) and may the Lord raise up among us more men and women prepared to heed the call to "Macedonia".
The enemy may continue to use empty accusations to distract us from the work, but may we forever be unashamed "of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1v16)
Q71 What is required in the seventh commandment? The seventh commandment requireth the preservation of our own and our neighbor’s chastity, in heart, speech, and behaviour.
Read - Gen 2:16-17, 3:8, 15, Rom 5:19
Message - Alan Burke
If you could sum up what the redeeming work of Christ in one word I wonder what it would be? Forgiveness, redemption, adoption, love, there are many that we could come up with but there is one that I want to draw your attention to and that is obedience. For the work of scripture regards the work of Christ as one of obedience. We thought about the obedience that God had called Adam to on Wednesday, one that he failed to live up to, Adam did not obeyed the word of God and as a result there were consequences. Yet scarcely had fallen into sin before God approached Adam in the garden, He promised Adam and Eve that he would send a mighty deliverer and redeemer. In Genesis 3:15 we have God's first revelation of the ‘Covenant of Grace’. God promised man that there would be a conflict between Satan and the seed of the woman and that the seed of the woman would be victorious. "It [a descendant of Eve] shall bruise thy [Satan's] head, and thou [Satan] shalt bruise his [Christ's] heel.”
Today we look at how “…just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19). For the contrast between the disobedience of the first man Adam and the Last man Jesus is clear. The life of Christ was clearly one of sustained, flawless and consistent obedience, in his ‘passive obedience’ and his ‘active obedience’.
What do we mean by ‘passive obedience’ and his ‘active obedience’. Well Christ in his passive obedience he was a victim sinful men who sent him to the cross, and there on the cross He also received the wrath of God due to the sins of His people. We call this the ‘passive obedience’ of Christ not because Jesus was inactive; He purposefully and actively laid down His life for His flock (John 10:1–18). He there died in our place for the sins of his people. If the death of Jesus were all that we had, we would simply be restored to a place of neutrality. But God didn’t send Jesus to earth on Good Friday and say, “Die for the sins of your people and that will take care of it.” No, because more was needed.
What more was needed that the cross you may wonder, think back to Adam what was required of him was obedience, the same obedience that he demands from all his creatures, for ’cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law’ (Gal 3:10, Deut 26:26). Christ in his active obedience by coming, born without sin through virgin birth, lived without sin his whole life, he honoured God in our place, and for us actively obeyed God in our place by keeping the law (Luke 22:39–46; John 19:28–30). Through his life and his death he was our substitute and though faith there is a glorious exchange, we stand before God with the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ (Phil 3:9). Christ did what Adam did not do, what we could never do, and though his ‘passive obedience’ and his ‘active obedience’ has dealt with our sin, achieving everything we need so that we may become the righteous of God (Rom 5:19). A glorious exchange takes place through faith so that we are accepted in his righteousness, we are his children, we are adopted because of what Jesus has done.
What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?
The seventh commandment forbiddeth all unchaste thoughts, words, and actions. (Matt. 15:19, Matt. 5:28, Eph. 5:3–4)
Read - 2 Corinthians 2v14-17
Message - Scott Woodburn
We obviously don't have any photographs of the apostle Paul. Ultimately his appearance didn't and doesn't matter but an ancient source does describe him in this way "A man of middling size, and his hair was scanty, and his legs were a little crooked, and his knees were far apart; he had large eyes, and his eyebrows met, and his nose was somewhat long." It seems that if Paul was signed by a modelling agency it would only be because they needed someone to model balaclavas.
Paul wasn't unaware of the criticism. Later in this letter he writes what his opponents say about him "For they say, 'His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.'" (2 Corinthians 10v10) In other words, his critics argue that Paul is a big talker in his letters but of no significance in person. Criticism always stings but Paul never was a charismatic individual with bright white teeth or the greatest showman with razmatazz and shabang.
Simply put, Paul preached Christ crucified. He may have been weak but the Gospel never is. Safe in this knowledge Paul describes his journey to Macedonia as a "triumphal procession" (v14). As he went, the Gospel was preached and news of Christ spread like a beautiful fragrance (v14b). The Gospel preached in a decaying world is like the smell of baking bread to an empty belly. It is a declaration that Christ died for the ungodly. It declares that He knew no sin but became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. It is a declaration that must be believed.
The Gospel is not for an elite group but it is to be preached openly and freely to all. Paul speaks of being the aroma of Christ to both the saved and the perishing (v15). To the one who has believed, the sweet smell of salvation is from life to life (v16) but for the Christ rejecter, the proclamation is from death to death. The same message brings salvation to those who receive it and condemnation for those who reject it. John Calvin once made this very point, stating that the Gospel "is never preached in vain, but is effectual, leading either to life or to death." It is a terrifying thing to consider the man who hears the Gospel each week in his own church, sitting in his own pew and rejects it every time. Woe to such a man!
The scale of the task of preaching the Gospel causes Paul to proclaim "who is sufficient for these things?" (v16b). Paul knows his weakness. He may well be balding with crooked legs and one eyebrow but he is certainly not a "peddler of God's word" (v17), hawking it around for shameful gain. Instead he is an apostle commissioned by God, who speaks in Christ (united to Him by faith), in the sight of God.
We should never tire of hearing the Gospel. We should always seek to encourage and pray for those who preach it without fear or favour. Ballynahinch may have its troubles and often the Bride of Christ in this town is weak and divided, but I thank God that in every corner of "the Hinch", the sweet fragrance of the Gospel drifts through our streets. May the church in Ballynahinch continue to be "the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." (v15). To God alone the glory, may He give the increase!
Q73 Which is the eighth commandment? The eighth commandment is, Thou shalt not steal.
Day 180 The Lord's Day