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The Simplicity of Conversion

The Simplicity of Conversion

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Acts 8:32-40, Isaiah 53.

There is a striking contrast in this passage.  It is this:

  1. The deeply profound nature of the gospel – it is beyond our understanding.  
  2. The simplicity of the gospel – it is so simple that even a child can believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

We see both of these paradoxical opposites in this passage of Scripture.   

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The Subject Seldom Spoken

The Subject Seldom Spoken.

Psalm 39:4 “Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am. 5 Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapour.  Selah  6 Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches, And does not know who will gather them. 7 “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. 8 Deliver me from all my transgressions; Do not make me the reproach of the foolish.

We all know about death  but do we know just how frequent it is?  A person dies every single second, somewhere in the world.  A preacher I heard at a meeting in Ballymena a while ago stood  in the pulpit with a watch in his hand.  he looked at the watch and he said, (over and over again) ‘There’s another one…  There’s another one…’  Every second someone somewhere goes out of this life, never to return, and into eternity.  Where will that eternal dwelling be?   Of course, some people will dismiss any concern about the frequency of death, claiming that death is something that is perfectly natural, and we should simply accept it.  That’s not a Christian belief.  Death is NOT natural.

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Genesis 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” 

So death is related to sin, to Adam’s fall, and consequently, to Christ’s death, for he is the ‘second Adam’ – the One who took our sin and died our death.  Let’s see:- Read more…

Must a Christian be a Church Member?

Must a Christian be a Member of a Church and what if I don’t fit in?

Text:  Matthew 18:15-20 

(A talk given at Templepatrick Reformed Church on Friday 17th January 2020)

Our topic for this evening is an important one.  And one where Christians don’t always agree.  ‘Must a Christian be a MEMBER of a church?’ I’m sure that you will have your own, well-informed opinion on this – and that you will be ready to defend your position.  I’m not going to disagree with you!  These matters, (both this month and next are adiaphora – matters that are not essential to saving faith – so we are not going to fall out if we don’t take exactly the same line.)

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Still, I have given the question some consideration, and what follows will be my conclusions, as I see them.  But before we get to the actual discussion, and the classic arguments for and against the issue, let’s set some parameters, by agreeing on a couple of essential definitions. Read more…

The Call to Ministry

The Individual Call, and the Purposes of God.

Acts 8:26-31

Simon has been dealt with by Peter and has been called upon to repent.  He doesn’t, and according to the early church fathers becomes the first ‘Christian’ gnostic heretic. Peter and the other apostles return to Jerusalem and the revival continues apace at Samaria.  But what about Philip?  God has other plans in mind for him.

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Image by CLKER-Free-Vector-Images on Pixabay

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Eschatology?  WHY BOTHER?

What’s the Point of Studying the End Times?

Psalm 73.2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.  3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other me. 21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. 22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. 23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.  24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

Why should we study the ‘End Times?

1 Because it’s already part of our Christian life and experience.  Salvation is always in three tenses, for we are SAVED, we are being saved, AND WE A RE going to be saved.  THIS WAS THE PSALMIST’S EXPERIENCE IN PSALM 73.  I WAS, I AM, I WILL BE.  The future is already part of the Christian life.  This is to some extent true also for unbelievers.  Many of them have deep regrets about their past, – many of them consider that they should only ‘live for today’ and most of them never want to think about what the future will inevitably being.  

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2 Because it is a practical help for the Christian life.  If we are thinking of things that will happen in the future, does that mean we will lose sight of what’s happening right now?  When Peter taught about the end times it aroused his heart, and in the minds of his readers it brought a sense of urgency in their present work for the Lord.  1 Peter 4:7-8. But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.  We can sum up the practical benefits of studying eschatology as follows:- Read more…

‘Must a Christian Belong to a Church – and What If I Don’t Fit In?’

This coming Friday, 17th January, (God Willing), I shall be giving a paper titled

‘Must a Christian Belong to a Church –

and What If I Don’t Fit In?’

at Templepatrick Reformed Church.

The event is at 7.30pm, and the church is on Carnanee Road, Templepatrick.

The meeting format is very simple; just the talk, and discussion afterwards

Everyone would be welcome.

 

Lessons from Acts 8.

More Lessons from Acts 8.

Acts 8:14ff

We’ve already learned that we need to regularly examine ourselves, to be sure that we are truly in the faith, and not fooling ourselves about our conversion, and now in this important passage we can still find more important lessons to learn.  For example…

 

1 Do Christians Need a “Second Blessing?”

I’ve heard many preachers and read some books that use this incident to establish a doctrine of a “second blessing” or a “baptism of the Holy Spirit” – some form of supernatural infilling that occurs after salvation. In their understanding, a sinner is saved, but later on, at some time after their conversion, the person will long for ‘more of God’ and will be “filled with the Holy Ghost” – and this “filling or baptism” is typically marked by some supernatural signs.    Now this is certainly a secondary matter, and one view or another won’t keep anyone out of heaven, but as Reformed Christians, it would not be our position. 

Adiaphora

So, let’s consider again this passage in Acts 8 and see what’s really happening here in Samaria… Read more…