Ben Myers has begun a nine part sermon series on the Apostles’ Creed.
His first three talk with mp3s are here:
It’s an annual tradition at Christ the Truth to listen to Dev Menon’s Classic Sermon.
Paul Blackham’s teaching is equally fantastic
John B recommends Scott Hoezee’s sermon, “How We See Things–Psalm 47″
And an essay by Stephen T. Davis, “The Meaning of the Ascension for Christian Scholars”.
The Collects from BCP:
Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell; who liveth and reigneth with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
O God, whose blessed Son, our great high priest, has entered once for all into the Holy Place and ever liveth to intercede on our behalf: grant that we, sanctified by the offering of his body may draw near with full assurance of faith by the way which he has dedicated for us and evermore serve thee, the living God; through the same thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
And here are a couple of my own:
A kids song about Jesus moving house (eventually to heaven)
He rose up among us, as told.
He rose up the Promise of old.
My Brother in strife,
Assuming my life.
Exalted, the Father’s Decree
He rose up, He rose up for me.
He rose up humanity’s Last
Man’s Answer in life unsurpassed
My Champion living,
God’s life of thanksgiving.
Exalted as I’m meant to be
He rose up, He rose up for me.
They raised Him, my Saviour, on high
Man lifted, accursed, left to die.
My Priest in atonement,
My Lamb in enthronement.
Exalted on destiny’s tree,
He rose up, He rose up for me.
He rose up from death He arose,
Immortal to crush all His foes.
The Lord of all history,
My Christ has the victory.
Exalted the darkness must flee,
He rose up, He rose up for me.
He rose up to heaven, He rose,
Ascended beyond other thrones.
My Friend in high places,
My Fountain of graces.
Exalted, my heavenly Plea,
He rose up, He rose up for me.
I rise up, I rise up in Him,
Emboldened in spite of all sin.
In Jesus attaining,
My destiny – reigning.
Exalted, with angels to sing,
I rise up, I rise up in Him.
Statements people make about faith:
“I wish I had your faith”
“As you know I could never share your faith”
“Faith is believing something you know isn’t real.”
“You just got to have faith.”
John 1:10-13 – Faith is recognizing and receiving
John 2:11 – Faith is responding to the glory of Jesus
Derek’s Father says: “We’re going to visit the Grand Canyon and you’ll be awestruck!”
Derek says: “Do I have to be awestruck??”
Derek’s Father says: “One day you’ll meet a girl and you’ll fall in love?”
Derek says: “Do I have to fall in love?”
Derek’s Father says: We’re going to church to hear about the glory of Jesus and we’ll believe in Jesus.
Derek says: “Do I have to believe in Jesus?”
That’s a funny question isn’t it?
Faith is like being awestruck or falling in love – it must happen if you’re recognizing the glory of Christ!
John 3:13-16 – Faith is looking away from self to Jesus (cf Brazen Serpent)
John 20:24-31 – Faith is meeting the risen Jesus
The Christian life is a life of continuing faith
Through the Bible.
Faith is not something in me that I need to drum up
Faith is not a leap into the dark – it’s stepping into the light
In fact it’s being in the dark and having someone switch the light on
Faith is not a hoop you have to jump through to get something else: salvation
Faith is receiving Jesus – it’s a life-long love affair.
It begins by being passive with God and bears fruit in love for others
1 Samuel 17
Faithless, fearful Israel are saved by their Faithful, Fearless King.
Their unbelief turns to faith when they see His victory: they shout and advance
Every day we need to same: to look to our Champion, to shout and advance.
The life of faith is a continual looking to Christ.
Have you ever said the phrase “I’ve died and gone to heaven!“? Think of a time when you might have said “I’ve died and gone to heaven!” The dream holiday, the dream job, the dream boyfriend or girlfriend. The day the dream came true you died and went to heaven.
The book of Ephesians begins by saying “The Christian has died and gone to heaven”…
This is always the way: God the Father sends God the Son to be with us in our suffering and to bring us out that we might worship the Father in freedom and joy.
Exodus is the story of this Figure from the bush: the Angel, the Great I AM: He leads the people out of slavery and into salvation.
Here Carl Trueman speaks about Luther’s doctrine of the Word and our need, today, to recover a theology of preaching.
The Word of God transforms the reality of the world. That is the power of preaching, that is the power of the pulpit…
I’m convinced that while much time is spent at seminaries, rightly, teaching the technical aspects of preaching… it is equally important that preachers understand the nature of the theological action which they perform when they stand in a pulpit.
It’s a vital, vital need. I think evangelicalism would be transformed if we came to a deep appreciation of what preaching actually is.
Here’s my effort on Theology Network to bang that drum….
It is often said that the real issue in preaching is not ‘How to?’ but ‘How can?’ How can a preacher stand before a congregation and dare to speak ‘In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’? The ‘How can?’ is by far the more pressing question. And yet, in the textbooks, at the conferences and in preaching groups it seems the ‘How to?’ is the perennial concern. Notes or full script? Powerpoint or no? Topical sermons or lectio continua? These questions abound. Even issues like ‘how to address the heart?’ or ‘how to preach wisdom literature?’ threaten to drown out proper theological reflection. All the while the ‘How can?’ question stands above our practice demanding an answer.
Our silence on this issue could simply reflect the pragmatic spirit of our age. We want to know what ‘works’ so we can copy it. But I suggest there is a deeper problem. Fundamentally we have an impoverished theology of revelation which fails to appreciate what evangelicals from another age held dear – namely that God Himself addresses us in preaching.
Twice in this passage Jesus is called “Lord”. And what have the disciples experienced to make them call Him ‘Lord’? Have you noticed? In this story He spends the whole time serving His friends. What kind of LORD is Jesus? He provides the catch, He provides bread and fish of His own, He provides the fire, He cooks the breakfast.
It harks back to one of the most astonishing things Jesus ever said. Back in Luke 12 Jesus had said that when He, the Master, comes again…
…He will have His servants recline at the table and He will come and wait on them. (Luke 12:37)
When the Master comes: He will serve His servants. Isn’t that astonishing? You’d never believe that was true, except that Jesus said it. And then, Jesus did it. Because here He is at the barbecue, apron on, tongs in hand. He provided the catch, He provided the fire, now He’s cooking it up saying “Come and have breakfast!”
Here’s the good news: You and I are sinking in quicksand. Jesus appears to say “Don’t worry, I’m here to save you.” He promptly dives in and sinks like a stone before us. When Jesus dies it looks like hope itself dies: our Rescuer perishes! It’s strange news, but this is the way Christ rescues – through perishing.
So the quicksand scenario continues… After Jesus sinks without trace we feel a tug on our legs. Jesus drags us under with Him. He binds us to Himself in His death.
At this point you think the good news is really bonkers. And it is – it’s utterly right-side-up. Jesus dies and put us to death in His death. He takes us down into His judgement for us. Then He bursts up out of the quicksand into new life – and He takes us with Him. That’s the meaning of Easter Sunday.
It was a privilege to preach at the Crowded House on Sunday where two folks were baptised.
The sermon begins at about 10 minutes. (If you’ve heard me on Christ’s baptism before, you might want to skip to the 19 minute mark).
Here we have an artist’s dream. If you’re a film-maker, a writer, a playwright – you would love to depict this scene: Humanity putting its Maker on trial. What a scenario! All the Gospels tell us about this in some detail – these show trials with trumped up charges. Because the bible makes it clear: the so called judges in these trials are the guilty ones. The one in the dock is the only innocent one. Nonetheless He stoops into the dock, to be tried by His creatures. This is the Judge of the world, judged.
And what we see in Jesus is the most incredible stillness and poise. He is like a mirror, reflecting back the accusations of His prosecutors. At every stage of His cross-examination, He manages to get confessions out of His prosecutors! Ingenius!
The brilliance of Jesus is to allow their judgements of Him to judge them. Their accusations only end up accusing them. This is true any time you try to judge a great one.
If you call Shakespeare hackneyed and cliched, it doesn’t reflect badly on Shakespeare, it reflects badly on you. If you call the Grand Canyon “a glorified ditch”, or the Great Wall of China “shoddy workmanship”, or Lionel Messi “a Sunday-league amateur” – that tells you nothing about Shakespeare or the Grand Canyon or the Great Wall or Lionel Messi. It tells you everything about you.
When we judge the Judge it tells us nothing about Him it tells us everything about ourselves. Do you want to know what you’re like? Think about this judgement scene. The Judge of the world condescends into the dock and submits to these kangaroo courts. And we – the judges – find Him guilty of a capital offence. What is His crime? To be the Son of God.
When our Maker goes on trial we find Him worthy of death? Why? For being who He is.
In Luke 23 we see everyone making this verdict: the powerful, the weak, the Jews, the non-Jews, the rich, the poor – everyone deems Him worthy of death. And what is Jesus’ response?
He goes to the cross. And as He is hoisted up He prays “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” (v34)
The Judge is judged. He does not protect Himself or justify Himself. He exposes Himself to every accusation, every insult, every blow – both judicial and physical. And He retaliates with mercy: “Father, forgive.” This is the heart of God for you.
Marilyn Monroe: “The sex symbol becomes a thing, I hate being a thing. I’ve never liked sex myself. I don’t think I ever will. It seems just the opposite of love”
Actually Christians disagree. Christians say:
GK Chesterton: “Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.”
Sex and love belong together, profoundly.
Sex and God belong together, profoundly.
To understand sex we need to understand the Christian view of God, the universe and everything. Then we can see where sex fits…
Luke 3:21-22: Jesus enters our filth to bring us to His Family.
God’s Family (the Trinity) is the origin of gender.
The way into that Family (oneness with Jesus) is the origin of marriage.
Now we can understand the Christian sexual ethic. Gender reflects the difference-in-equality of God. Marriage reflects the saving love of Jesus.
In the Gospels Jesus affirms both of these foundational points in Matthew 19.
Therefore, according to Jesus, sex is God’s way of saying to another human being “I belong to you completely, permanently and exclusively.” It’s the most romantic view of sex imaginable.
And - more profoundly – it’s a proclamation of the ultimate oneness available in Jesus and the ultimate love He brings us into.
That’s why GK Chesterton was right: everyone knocking on the door of the brothel is looking for God.
But don’t settle for the picture of intimacy and oneness – receive the reality. Come to Jesus and know the truth of what sex points towards.
A Sermon on Ephesians 4:1-16
The Christian life is a down-hill WALK.
It’s also a battle, we’ll see that in chapter 6. There are forces to STAND against. But we STAND because we hold the high ground. And if you hold the high ground, you don’t need to advance, you don’t need to retreat, you don’t need to go anywhere. You just STAND in the strength of Jesus.
But this is the Christian life: First SIT at God’s right hand in Christ. Understand all that we have. Then WALK out into the world and, all the while, be prepared to STAND against the enemy’s schemes. But notice this: NOTHING in the Christian life is about uphill struggle. NOTHING.
There is a WALK out into the world. There is a STAND to take against spiritual powers. But there’s never a climb. Jesus has climbed. He’s the only one. We sit, we walk, we stand, we never climb. We are already on top of the world. We have gone to heaven already, in Christ. We have the fullness of God. And now, what’s life about?
What’s the essence of this WALK? What’s the goal of this wonderful gospel?
In a word: CHURCH…
I gave these short talks at the daily prayer meetings for Falmouth CU mission week.
Throughout Luke 8 we see the Word spreading powerfully though it’s opposed at every turn. Through death, darkness and much frustration, light and life does triumph.
During mission week at Falmouth CU we showed The Dark Knight Rises. I was going to give a short talk at the end but we had some technical problems halfway through so I gave the talk in the middle instead. Thankfully it didn’t affect the talk too much since it wasn’t based on the plot of Batman but on the concept of myths.
JRR TOLKEIN: ‘The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories… But this story has entered History… There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits.”
CS LEWIS: “The story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others but with the tremendous difference that it really happened.”