Notes of Meeting 27th March 2022

Lee Street Church

Notes of Meeting – 27th March 2022

Worship led by Sue Clarke

Easter is fast approaching. Today we are focusing our worship on giving praise for the cross.

We have Jesus who has already paid the penalty for our sins on the cross. He rose from the grave, defeating death and sin in victory. We have the promise that Jesus will return for us.

Ephesians 1 v3-10

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons, through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will- to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace, that He has lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”

In the light of this, how can we not praise God!

SONG: Enter in to his great love   84

The promise of Your cross

“Forever in my heart and written on my soul, the promise of Your cross.

I have no other claim, I have no other plea, the promise of Your cross, the hope for every heart.

I’ll praise You for the cross, the promise of Your cross to me.”

1 Peter 2 v24  “He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.”

Psalm 52 v9 “I will praise You for ever for what You have done. In Your name I will hope, for Your name is good.”

SONG: My hope is built- Cornerstone

“Where mercy ever flows and shame’s no longer known, I’ll praise You for the cross, the promise of Your cross to me.

It never fails to bring the cleansing that I need. Embedded in my heart and rooted in my soul. It seals me as Your own and tells me I am Yours. The promise of Your cross, the hope of every heart.  I’ll praise You for the cross, the promise of Your cross to me.”

Psalm 40 v2-3  “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. “

SONG: When I was lost  1607

Tell it in all the earth, sing it throughout the world, the promise of the cross.

There is a higher way, there is a higher hope, the promise of Your cross, the hope of every heart.

1 Corinthians 2 v9  “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him, but God has revealed it to us by His spirit.”

I’ll praise You for the cross, the promise of Your cross to me

SONG: Wonderful so wonderful    1632

Hebrews 13 v15  “Through Jesus therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise- the fruit of lips that confess His name.”

Revelation 5 v12 ““Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!”

I’ll praise You for the cross, the promise of Your cross to me.

SONG: You laid aside your majesty  633

Philippians 2 v6-9

“Jesus - Who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

SONG: Thank you for the cross Lord  1528

Colossians 3v3-4 For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

I’ll praise You for the cross, the promise of Your cross to me!

SONG: There is a higher throne  1541

 

Ken’s Message

Real Disciples – Real Freedom    John 8. 31 – 41

What is “fake news?  One definition is “false information that is broadcast or published as news for fraudulent or politically motivated purposes.”  The classic example of “fake news” has been seen recently in Russia by President Putin.  He said he wanted to prevent "genocide" and protect Russian speakers, and aim for the "de-Nazification" of Ukraine.  The actual truth is that there is no genocide in Ukraine, and the country's president is a Jewish man whose native language is Russian.  Sadly, because the Russian people can only hear and watch state authorised news they believe it to be true and so are deceived by “fake news.”

In the passage we read of some Jews believed in Jesus.  That is great and maybe they thought that was the end of their faith’s journey. Then Jesus in the next sentence reveals the next step after believing in him and uses the name of disciple.  Jesus‘s goal in that we don’t just become believers in him but disciples of him.   When Jesus gave the disciples their mission before he went to heaven he didn’t say “Go and make believers of all nations” but said “Go and make disciples of all nations”.  Jesus wants believers in him to become disciples of him.  Discipleship is not a second step in Christianity, as if the one first step is to become a believer and then (if he chooses) a disciple, but from the beginning discipleship is involved in what it means to become a Christian.   Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. Often belief in Jesus takes place in a moment but it takes a lifetime to be a disciple.  The common name for a believer we use today is Christian.  That is only used three times in the New Testament whereas the name disciple is the most common name which is used.  In Acts 11.26 we read “The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”  The name Christian seems to have been used in a mocking way.   Jesus as he speaks to these Jews uses the phrase of being “really my disciples.”  In other words there are those who say and believe they are his disciples but are not. They are “fake disciples”.   The standard definition of a disciple is someone who adheres to the teachings of another.  In the days of Jesus there were many disciples of Rabbis, the Jewish teachers, who walked around with them listening to them.  The Greek word for disciple means a learner or a follower.  The disciple isn’t an expert or professional in the Christian life but a learner, that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” 

In Mark 3.14 it gives us the essence of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.  “He appointed twelve …..that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.”  They were with Jesus all the time 24/7 for three years, and after he went to heaven, that continued with the Holy Spirit.  A disciple lives with Jesus and doesn’t just meet him on Sundays but is with him 7 days a week.  The disciple listens to the words of Jesus and seeks to live out his life in obedience to what Jesus says.  He is also a worshiper of Jesus and gives him priority in his life.  The disciple is sent to witness for Jesus and speak about the good news of Jesus and live like him in the world.  He is able to do these things through the authority and power of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus gives another mark of a true disciple.   Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples.”  What did Jesus mean by that?  The mark of a true disciple is perseverance.  They not only believe but continue to follow him and obey his word.  Jesus speaks of these so-called believers later saying “you are ready to kill me because you have no room for my word.” (v37). These were “fake disciples” who believed for a short time then gave up.  They prided themselves in being Abraham’s descendants believing that made them children of God.  They believed their religion made them children of God yet they didn’t truly believe in Jesus or follow his word.  It has been similar in our country for many years where because we were born in a so-called Christian country we thought that made us Christians.  So many don’t realise they are “fake Christians.  

Many started to believe and were joyful at the beginning but having no deep root of faith they, for various reasons like trouble, persecution, life’s worries, riches and pleasures, they didn’t continue in the faith showing they were “fake disciples”.  A real disciple keeps going despite the obstacles like the runner in a marathon who finishes the course.  The disciple of Jesus isn’t perfect and sometimes fails and falls but the true disciple with Christ’s power gets up and continues running.  All the 12 disciples of Jesus failed him.  When Jesus was arrested they all ran away and left him on his own.  Peter when accused of being one of repented his disciples said he didn’t even know Jesus!  And he did that three times!  We would think that is the end of Peter’s faith.  How could he recover from such a failure?   But he confessed and repented so Jesus forgave him and restored him and he became a strong disciple and a great leader of the church.  He was a real disciple even though he failed, for he continued holding on to the teaching of Jesus.  Persevering in the faith is an essential quality of being a disciple.  Jesus is looking for those who will hold to his teaching to the end.  We may think that we could never hold on to the end.  But Jesus gives us a wonderful promise.  He says I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10.28-29)  Jesus has hold of one hand and His Father has hold of the other. No one can snatch us out their hands so we eternally safe and secure. 

The Jews who initially believed didn’t continue to believe which proved their faith wasn’t true but fake.  Real faith leads to real disciples who hold to the words of Jesus to the end.  Being a disciple is not just studying about Jesus.  It has been said.  “A student learns what his teacher knows, but a disciple becomes what his master is.”  It is interesting to note that when the Lord talked about discipleship he always prefaced it “If”.  Never with an emphatic “You must”.  Discipleship comes with an option. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”  May we seek the Lord’s help to desire and be his “real disciples” and not “fake disciples”

The other subject of this passage is freedom which Jesus refers to twice.  Freedom often crops up in our conversations these days.  The dictionary definition is: “liberation from slavery or restraint, or from the power of another.”  This would certainly apply to the situation in Ukraine today.  They long to be free from the war that they are unjustly bearing from Russia.  There are many forms of freedom which people long for.  Many seek freedom from oppressive propaganda that is served up to them in Russia at this present time.   Propaganda is defined as an organized programme of publicity of selected information.  These days the Russian people are only allowed the news from the Russian government which isn’t the truth but “fake news.”  There are also those who seek freedom of the press and their own political opinion in Russia which isn’t permitted.  Christians seek religious freedom to exist and worship in several countries.  At the time of Jesus the Jewish nation sought freedom from the oppression of the Roman Empire.  So when Jesus spoke of freedom many would think of freedom from the Roman occupation of their land.  The basic idea of freedom is deliverance from something dangerous, destructive and deadly.  Could that analogy apply to the kind of freedom that Jesus came to bring?  Very much so, but those who were listening to him didn’t understand it at all.  He made it clear that he didn’t come to bring them political freedom but spiritual freedom from sin.  He said: “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”  He had to say it clearly because they thought they were already free as Abraham’s  descendants.   As before they were guilty of being “fake disciples” now they are those with a “fake freedom”.  They believed that they were free from sin when all the time they were slaves of sin.  They couldn’t recognise their sin so couldn’t admit and confess it.  The way to freedom from sin begins when we confess it and repent of it.  If you are an alcoholic and go to an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting for the first time you will introduce yourself in this way: “My name is John (or whatever your name is), I am an alcoholic.”  That is the beginning of the road to freedom from alcohol.  In order to be set free from the slavery to sin the acknowledgement, confession and repentance of our sin is our first step.  How are we set free?   Jesus says, “the truth will set you free”.  

We live in a day when people don’t know the truth. For many people, truth is simply what they want to believe.  But there is truth that is absolute and completely reliable.  What then is that truth?  Before Jesus said these words he spoke these words:  “If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”  So the truths that set us free are the teaching and words of Jesus.  The message he brought from heaven was the gospel which is the good news about Jesus.  That good news was “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15. 3-4)  This is the only good news that can save mankind from sin.  The other means whereby we need to be set free from sin is: “ If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  There is not only the truth of the gospel to believe to be set free but also the need to trust and receive Jesus as your Saviour and Lord.  It is not enough just to believe intellectually but to receive the Son into your heart as personal  Saviour and Lord. 

In what way does Jesus set us free from the slavery of our sin?

He sets us free from the stain and guilt of our sin.  The Bible clearly states we have all sinned and are in need of forgiveness for our sin.  Without our sin being cleansed and forgiven we stand guilty before God waiting to receive his judgement.  But we rejoice with the words of the old hymn: “What can wash away our sin? Nothing, but the blood of Jesus.”  How can we receive this forgiveness for our sin?  God’s Word declares “everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10.43) Without that forgiveness, we will stand before the judgement throne waiting to receive our punishment.  Secondly, Jesus sets us free from the penalty of our sin.  God being a holy and just God must punish the guilty sinner.  God’s word clearly states “Just as man is destined to die once and after that to face judgement.” (Hebrews 9.27)  Judgement for my sin is as sure to happen as my death. However, the good news is that Christ took the punishment for us on the cross.  It happened as the prophet Isaiah foretold: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53.5)  No longer do we fear that judgement for our sins, for as the scripture says; “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8.1) We can look forward with joy with such certain of assurance of a home in heaven.                                                                                                                     

Thirdly, he sets us free from the power of our sin.  When we trust in Christ he comes to live within us by his Spirit and we are set free from the bondage of our sin.  That doesn’t mean we never sin again.  But it means that sin is no longer is our master and as we rely on the Holy Spirit we can have victory over sin.  As we submit ourselves to God and resist the devil we are told he will flee from us. (James 4.7)   As the old hymn says “He died that we might be forgiven, he died to makes us good that we might go at last to heaven saved by his precious blood.”   Our life from believing in Jesus till we get to heaven can be transformed to be like Jesus.

Whilst Jesus sets us free from the guilt of our past sin and also from the power of sin in the present, what about the future?  The promise of scripture is that one day we will be set free from the very presence of sin.  In Philippians 3.21 we are told that when Christ returns he will “transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”  At the moment we commit sin through our bodies with our eyes, ears, lips, hands, feet, thoughts, desires and attitudes.  But when we receive our new glorious body we shall not sin and be fully prepared to enter God’s eternal kingdom where there will be no sin, nor any of its consequences such as tears, mourning, crying, pain and death.  When we look at our present world there is little hope for the future with its wars, disease, famine, floods and the effects of climate change. But as believers, we have this glorious prospect of being part of the new heaven and new earth that God has prepared for us.  Do you have this freedom that Jesus gives to those who believe in Him? 

The freedom that Christ gave us was described as being free indeed.  Christ not only freed us from things but for things.  Things that we lost through the sin of Adam have now been recovered.  We can understand and experience the original reason for our creation.  We were created to know and glorify God.  The essence of eternal life is to know the only one true God and Jesus Christ.  Jesus came that we might have life, and have it to the full.  That doesn’t mean just the fullness of life in heaven but the fullness of life now.  Paul reminds us in 2. Corinthians 5.15 why Christ died. “he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”   This is similar to what Christ says about losing our lives (selfish lives) for his sake that we might gain real life.  Until we live this kind of life we are missing out on the best life we can live on earth.  God has also given us gifts to use in his service and for the body of Christ.  We can be labourers together with God.  Let us not waste this precious time on earth.  As someone said “Only one life it’ll soon be past only what’s done for Christ will last.”

I have on my table a violin string….it is free.  I twist one end of it and it responds.  It is free.  But it is not free to do what a violin string is supposed to do- produce music.  So I take it, fix it in my violin and tighten it until it is taut.  Only then is it free to be a violin string. By the same token we are free when our lives are uncommitted, but not to be what were intended to be.  Real freedom is not freedom “from” but freedom for.  Paul said “For me to live is Christ.”  Can we also say the same?

                                                                                                                                                                     

Closing Song: All I once held dear

 

NOTICES

  • Last week’s offerings to support humanitarian work in Ukraine raised over £350.
  • Lent Course on Wednesday is at Horley Baptist Church at 7.45pm
  • Speaker next Sunday is Robin Thompson