Now that’s a miracle!

 

I attended a talk over Christmas about the true meaning of Christmas and why the birth of a baby was so significant.
The talk included different philosophers on how Jesus was historically a real person and that there are many different sources accounting the miracles.
At the end of the talk someone asked how we can relate to this today as we don’t have miracles.
In response to this question I was eager to reply that we do have miracles. But it wasn’t my place at the time.

I would like to share that we do in fact experience miracles today in the same way that Jesus performed them when we was with us on earth.
These miracles are personal miracles. We can call them Mini Miracles. They might not be to the same extent as feeding the 5,000.
But that miracle affected 5,000 people individually. Their own mini-miracle of being fed. They experienced it. Just because lots of people experienced the same mini miracle at the same time doesn’t belittle the mini miracles that people experience in their daily lives through the Holy Spirit and God’s omnipresence. God created the earth. He was performing miracles before Jesus was on the earth and he’s performing them after, even right now. In the same way that the people witnessed and experienced mini miracles of their own through Jesus, we can witness and experience them today.

What do we class as a miracle? Something that happens that is seemingly impossible.
Taking this recognition into account let’s look at some examples. The first being the -flame above the disciples heads – meaning that they can speak to everyone about Christianity in different languages, automatically. Acts 2:1-12  This was a miracle. A miracle for the disciples. And this would result in mini miracles for the people who they spoke to. But this was after Jesus had physically left them.
So after Jesus had gone to heaven, miracles could still occur.

We hear of many different miracles, the more dramatic such as healings, people speaking in tongues or visions.

But I think we often miss out  those miracles such as Churches running food banks which in some community’s sustain and help those in the most need. Doing all of it in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Young person who in this 21st century of  rational thinking and a hatred of all things religions, dares to be different and choose to live a different life.

Now these miracles may seem a lot like good deeds and the more “miracles” you do in your life leads to your salvation. Well I want to categorically deny that is not what I’m saying. these mini miracles which I have mentioned as the miracles that were experienced in the Bible  were there to point to Jesus. To his divinity, to the salvation that can only be obtained through him. Pointing to the remarkable miracle that God sent His only Son to die on the Cross and rise again to defeat death and open up the gates so that we may walk free of the grasps of death and hell.

Feel free to comment if you would like to share some experiences of miracles. A testimony of how God has moved and worked in and through your life, It might act as ministry/evangelism to your friends or have a think about events in your life that you could consider to be a miracle. I hope reading this and other comments will encourage you.

God Bless

Gareth

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Listening for the Gospel

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Are you one of those people who sits on long train journeys with headphones in, music blaring, in your own little world?

On a recent journey I took with my headphones in I found myself in my own little world I realised that I was not doing anything good for the gospel. See, in life we see the gospel throughout the world, through what we see, in what we do and what we hear.

As we go about our days rushing from one place to another you can’t help but notice things in other people’s lives like the phone conversation you overhear, the homeless person sat in the cold rain and the joy and love of a married couple strolling together. But what should these things that we see do to us?

These things that we come across in our day to day lives should remind us of the gospel. When we see people in distress or struggling alone this should stir in our minds the story of the gospel. As we see people in these situations it should also draw us to think why we need the gospel.

Let’s break this down.

Recently on a train journey I came across a lady on the phone. The phone conversation did not appear to be going very well and by the end of the phone call she was in tears. Then like every morning I walked past several homeless people shivering in the cold after another night on the streets. What do these sights and sounds show us about the need for the gospel. They show us that this world is a fallen world. That this world is a broken and imperfect world. When we talk about the gospel and when we talk about the good news of Jesus Christ we cannot and should not avoid the reality that the world in which we live in is not the way it should be… I am regularly drawn back when I think of the fallen state of our world. God knows this problem and in fact God has fixed this problem. Jesus knows how difficult life can be with the loss that we can encounter. I am drawn to John chapter 11 where Jesus loses Lazarus, Mary blames and accuses Jesus, saying, ‘If only you had been here.’ When Jesus sees the troubles, the pain, the anguish as the scriptures say he was moved deeply and it greatly troubled him. The gospel, the good news tells us that this world is not perfect. However, the gospel also tells us that our God is moved greatly and deeply at the site of the troubled state we are in. That means only one thing… hope.

As we continue through John 11 we realise that this deep and troubled feeling on Jesus is what stirs in Him action. This is also true however with the salvation of mankind. Back in Genesis when Adam and Eve committed the first sin God cast them aside, He sees them separated from Him and is moved deeply. God threatens the evil one that He has a plan of salvation to rescue His people, His beloved people, from the grasps of Satan. This is the hope mentioned earlier. This is the hope of Jesus Christ. In this broken world where we encounter pain and suffering we know that Jesus came to change all of that. He encountered pain and suffering himself taking on pain and suffering that he did not deserve. Jesus came to fix this broken world. Jesus came to walk alongside everyone, including those who have lost, those who are lonely and those who sleep in the cold. God cares. So how should this have any impact on the good news? What should this mean for us when we are evangelising to those who do not yet believe.

It should encourage us that we do not need to start by telling people where they are going wrong and just shout ‘repent!’ at them. We need to, like Jesus, see what is wrong and walk alongside those who are in pain and suffering. As we do this we will be moved greatly and we will be affected by what we see and in doing so we will react with action. An appropriate action will help bring the good news to that person to point them to the Lord Jesus.

My prayer for you is that as you go about your day, meeting new people and enjoying your old friend’s company that you look into their lives and look for any trouble so that you can walk alongside them. I hope that you can help them through their troubles, weep when you need to weep, allow yourself to be moved greatly and deeply so that you will be able to most effectively tell of the good news of Jesus.

If you have any other questions and you’d like to get in touch with me please do not hesitate to comment below or Message the Facebook page OR send an e-mail to wordtolife_gareth@outlook.com

God bless.

Gareth.

 

The Virgin Mary and Speedometers

 

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Do you throw salt over your shoulder when you knock salt over, Do you avoid walking underneath ladders, and do you avoid the same path as a black cat. All of these superstitions may sound silly, but have some of the superstitions slipped into Christianity. Walking around town earlier the other day, I noticed someone heard in the car and icon of the Virgin Mary In front of their speedometer. This got me thinking, how often do we look to other things or other people protection how often do we cling to superstition and silly myths, Instead of clinging to the Lord Jesus. See this Virgin Mary icon in the car. Is a common aspect for many Orthodox Christians and Catholics. They use these icons to remind them or to even help them to pray to the Virgin Mary. They may defend these arguments by claiming that they are praying to Jesus through the Virgin Mary. They claim that it is because they are not good enough to pray to Jesus himself water the father because of their fallen sinfulness and gods holy perfection. We’re going to look at a couple of things which Show that this idea is wrong and that Jesus not only welcomes us to believe in him and to trust in his salvation, buddy also welcomes us into an intimate relationship with him and God the Father. So why is it that we turn to these silly superstition and icons, and turned to believe and trust in the Virgin Mary instead of trusting in the Lord Jesus. Well it’s what we’ve always done, look at the quote from

 

Exodus chapter 32:
“When people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him up make us gods who shall go before as for this Moses the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt we do not know what has become of him. So Aaron said to them, take off the rings of gold that are in the years of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me. So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in the various and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from the hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden car. And they said these are your gods oh Israel who brought you up out of the land of Egypt! When Aaron saw this it built an altar before an error in a proclamation and said, tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord. And they rose up early the next day and offered Burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”

 

As we can see from this passage, it did not take the people of Israel long to turn our backs on God. This is the people who recently the Lord himself redeemed from the hands of the Egyptians. This is the people who the Lord himself had opened the waters of the red sea so that they may walk on dry land. This is the people who the Lord himself and rain bread and manna from heaven so that they may eat. This is the people who are Lord himself had brought water from a rock so that they may drink in the middle of the desert. Yet because the Lord delayed in talking to Moses, They soon turn their back on the Lord. It does not take as long when we are struggling or seem to struggle to see God in our lives, that we may turn away from him and turned to other things instead. This is where we start to seek something else that we can worship in glorified. This is idolatry. And we replace God and the worship and glory that is Quite rightly his, We are and have become idolaters. This can come in many shapes and sizes different forms, This can be a false religion, devil worship, money, fame, or appearance. All of these things can take our eye off God, And lead us to worship other things instead of worshipping the creator. As Paul says in Romans we end up worshipping the created not the creator. So what can we do about this? We need to focus our hearts and minds and all that we are on God. We cannot use the same argument that certain Catholics and Orthodox Christians may use, That we cannot approach God because of his Holiness. Because is the author of the letter to the Hebrews says, We have a high priest who can sympathise with us in every way. The high priest in the offer is talking about here is Jesus. Jesus continually says to the gospels pray through me pay any think in my name. Jesus does not take a high pious ground, He commands us to pray through him to him seeking his guidance, As we know that we can approach him as God as our God, That he knows the struggles the issues that we may face in life and he can help by the power of his holy spirit. This means, We do not have the excuse of not being able to approach our God, God is not in some distant place unapproachable by man, where we need to use other mediators to approach him through prayer but where we can approach him directly through the link that we have with the Lord Jesus by his holy spirit and the gifts that that May bring. Can we now know to immerse ourselves with the Lord Jesus mediating through him to our Lord of God.

But how else can we protect ourselves from leading into the strange superstitions? By protecting yourself from situations that may lead to you being exposed to superstitions. If someone tells you that it’s okay to believe those things, if someone tells you that Christian tarot cards are okay, In fact if anybody tells you something that is contrary to the Word of God you must avoid that situation. Protect yourself with God’s holy word that is part of its purpose, As Paul says is useful for teaching and rebuking. Therefore do not just learned from it shape your life around it. Allow yourself to be formed by the word and by the holy spirit, In doing so over time you find yourself no longer relying on the superstitions and idols, But begin to find yourself relying on Jesus the bread of life you when you drink of the water that he gives you never get thirsty. You begin to realise that all you need in life is the Lord Jesus. Jesus is Enough.

 

If you have a question that wasn’t covered by this blog post, Feel free to comment or message the Facebook page, Asking your question I can then write a blog post in response to that question or record a video for the YouTube channel As part of the series word to life answered.

 

Check out the Facebook and twitter page for more.

 

God bless
Gareth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trust in the Lord!

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Exodus 14:1-14

So we come into this true story at quite a stage don’t we, the Israelites find themselves in a real backs to the wall situation, it seems like all hope is lost, they find themselves having experienced freedom for a short while appear to have been caught. Like now is there last few moments of freedom, The last few moments on Earth potentially. But as Gods chosen people, he did not, and will not stand by and watch his chosen people to be slaughtered by the shores of the red sea. So lets see why God did this and how it relates to us.

Point 1: Glory to God alone.

So looking firstly at verse 1-9 we find the Israelites in a bit of a pickle, I mean from a military standpoint God’s detour which he tells them to do 1-3 must have and did make Pharaoh think hang on a tick they must be lost and confused, we don’t know the exact place of where Moses was directed to take the people we know though that they were real and in a vulnerable place. See Gods actually military plan was a lure a trap if you like, see God wanted the glory of the victory at the Egyptians expense. Now I don’t know about you but this should be getting the alarm bells ringing that you have heard of a similar plan by God. And hopefully you know this story, it was through Jesus on the cross Satan must have thought Jesus had no clue what he was doing, he was the son of God handing himself over to die on a cross. on the cross he was vulnerable, Satan had the strategic advantage, but this was the devils fatal mistake, The cross was not a defeat for Jesus it was a victory, by dyeing for us he had an eternal victory over,sin,death and Satan.  Moving on to verse 4 God needed Pharaoh  to fall for his plan so what he did was he hardened Pharaohs heart, but Pharaohs change of heart showed one thing, that he never truly repented of his sins, Pharaoh had chance after chance after chance, he asked Moses to pray for him, he even asked for Gods blessing,yet he still rebelled against God, its an example to anyone who never quite gets around to doing what God requires. What God wants is total commitment to him, right here right now for the rest of our lives.

Point 2: When Under Satanic attack, Stand firm!!!!

This all sounds great commitment, right as Christians we can work on that but, and its a big but, Satan will not give up without a fight as the Israelites soon discovered. look at verse 10. What the Israelites saw was a slave master with an army with the most advanced technology in the world at that time. they find themselves in a desperate situation between Pharaoh and the deep blue sea, and instead of looking for Gods grace and strength they looked at their enemies and were terrified, see its fairly disappointing that they do this because they had witnessed all ten plagues, they had seen the wonders that God can do, not to mention the fact they escaped from Egypt only the night before. this is another place where it reflects our own salvation because no sooner after we make a commitment to Christ the doubts start to seep in, they start to discourage us, Satan begins to tempt, and as it says in the parable of the sower, some fall away after troubles, Satan does not give up without a fight, this is not surprising when you imagine we were once his slaves and he wants nothing more than to have us back. but see once God has set us free, Satan has no right to take us back. So what what should we do in this situation, well do what the Israelites did which was in verse 10, cry out to the lord.So how can we escape all this? well by making our stand, Moses tells the people in verse 13, 14 to not be afraid, stand frim and be still which in military situations seems ridiculously suicidal. but see the Israelites were not soldiers they were just spectators and same applies to our salvation to, see Satan is pursuing us, but instead of running away, all we need do see the salvation of our God Which brings glory to him because of his victory. Christianity is not about what we can do, its all about what Jesus has done through the cross and the empty tomb, Jesus has accomplished all for our salvation, he is the one who atoned for sin, who has turned aside Gods wrath, who offers perfect righteousness as a gift of faith. once we put our faith in Jesus we need to stand our ground, it is hard to be still and wait for God, we are tempted to turn and run, cry out in fear, or try to deal with it ourselves, instead trust Gods command to stand your ground, he is our defender our champion.

Summary:

We see here Gods glory through salvation and judgement in this passage, It showed in Gods character that he was Just and righteous. He is a faithful God, he told the Egyptians that he would redeem them from Egypt. and he did. he did this also for us, he said he would wipe away our iniquities and save us from our sin and bring glory to himself and he did that in the  cross, the red sea crossing is a great miraculous thing but what Jesus did on the cross is much more glorifying, and we should glorify God for what he did by saving us on the cross. He is our defender and our champion all to his Glory.

My girlfriend wrote this when she was 10.

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Recently, my girlfriend stumbled upon an old piece of school work. The piece of work was done by her when she was a 10 year old. Now you may be wondering why I would put a piece of school work up on the Word to Life blog. Well I think if you read it, especially with the context of the release of the new Noah film, and the state of the worlds climate with the recent large amount of smog that hit the United Kingdom, I am sure you can see why this powerful piece written by a 10 year old is so poignant.

I do hope you appreciate some of the truths which fall from it, God created a masterpiece but through the sin of the first humans Adam and Eve we marred the broken world that we live in. God decided to try to stem the flow of the evil and trouble in the world through what he did at the time of Noah, I will leave this piece to talk for itself now:

‘Nature is the art of God’

-Dante

This is the motto that we should all live by. It says that we should respect Gods world. Like we respect Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. No one would drop rubbish on that if people lived on the amazing piece of art work which it is. But God is the greatest artist of all. So why should we spoil his creation. We are polluting the air and sea, we are destroying rain forests so one day we will starve and suffocate in our environment we call home. God creating earth has another similarity to the Mona Lisa, Leonardo first painted her without a smile so then he went through drastic measures to make her better so he gave her a smile, we can relate to these changes in the Bible, the story of Noah. God did not like one part of his creation, how bad people were. So he went to great lengths to get it right, even flooding the whole world saving only Noah and his family. Most of the famous art work of centuries ago that still ‘live’ today are priceless. The earth has been here for millions of years and it needs our respect as it is more than priceless.

Let me know what you thought of this piece of work.

I hope it has had an impact on you, as I felt it was thought provoking.

God bless
Gareth

When does God want me to ‘pop the question’?

 

This is a question which men around the world have to wrestle with all the time. Is there a right time to pop the question, is there a set time. Do you get to so many months or years and then that’s when it is acceptable to pop the question. Well I don’t believe that to be the case. I am firm believer that when you know, you know. So for me, when you meet someone for the first time your thought should be “Is this the person I want to marry?” May seem slightly on the forward side but that should be running through your mind. Now you can test this over a number of months possibly a year to see is this the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. I must admit I have aimed this post at men who would be thinking of popping the question but of course ladies you can read this if you are wanting to ask your boyfriend to marry you.

So what criteria are there when considering if you should ask the girl you are with if they would marry you?

1. Do you love them?

This may seem obvious and non-Christians reading this may see this as a criteria for marriage but actually the importance of this is so great. In the book of Ephesians there is a call for men to love their wives as Christ loved the church (husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25 ESV) Now I don’t know about other men reading this who may be thinking about asking their girlfriends to marry them but when you hear what Paul is saying here about the love which husbands should have for their wives it seems a bit daunting. But this is why it is the first port of call in questioning if you should marry the girl you are with. Do you love her? Love her so much you would be willing to give yourself up for her? Now I don’t think this is just that age old “would you die for her” sort of thing but, would you be willing to make sacrifices for her, give things up out of love for her. For example you may be like to go out partying every other night but that means that you don’t see much of your girlfriend, this is not a stable situation to find yourself in when it comes to marriage, so would you be willing to give up in that situation going out every other night and maybe instead only go out once every other week, or so. These are the sacrifices that Paul is talking about here.

2. Are they a Christian?

This is a topic of much debate. I would personally myself feel it most advisable to marry a Christian. I feel this is because of issues such as baptism of children, can the children go to church and so on. Not only this but there can be issues with moral standpoints and views which can lead to if not start arguments or debates. Saying this however Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians says this (To the rest I say (I not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever and he consents to living with her, she should not divorce him….. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know husband whether you will save you wife? 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 ESV).

Now this long passage may look a bit OTT but Paul is basically saying “look you don’t know what could happen with an unbelieving partner, you never know through your marriage they could come to faith” which sounds great because if you truly love someone and they are not a believer why is the thing you want most of all? That they would be saved and know the Lord Jesus as their Saviour.

3. Do they want the same things in life i.e Children?

This is admittedly more of a practical criteria really. But none the less is a very important criteria. The main example I have used for this criteria is children. The simple fact is if one of you does not want children this may lead to regret, anger or resentment. But this can be the same for any issue, such as where you want to live, what your jobs situations are like. This is obviously something which can be solved very easily with a number of conversations. You can easily discuss future plans. Obviously if you were planning a surprise of asking your partner to marry you, then make these conversations discreet but make sure you cover and think of everything.

4. Could you stand living with them?

This is also a more practical criteria. It is easy to thing someone is the most amazing person in the world when you see them for a couple of hours a day. But living with them is a completely different kettle of fish. It may be that they are loud eaters, or they snore or they are messy. Now I am not suggesting that you can not marry them if they snore. But these are things you need to take in to consideration and also have a conversation about. The most important thing to do in this new step forward in your life is to keep talking to each other.

5. Do you really love them?

Now why have I put this point you may be wondering? Well this is because as we saw in our first point you have to love your wife as Christ loved the church. But like at the end of John’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter (Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. John 21:15 ESV) Now Jesus asks this of Peter to make sure Peter is going to be willing to go that extra mile for him. Jesus is testing Peters love making sure Peter is ready to follow Jesus through thick and thin. This is the love you need to be certain you have for your soon to be wife and the love that they equally have for you. Then you will know if you are willing to through thick and thin for each other.

So there we go, we have been through five issues which I feel are grounds to think on when wondering about marriage. Are there more? probably depending on your situation with your partner. Are there less? No, I don’t think so.

I do hope if you are reading this and looking at going into marriage, that God will bless you and your future wife in all that you do together and that you will keep God the creator of marriage in the centre.

God bless
Gareth

How do you solve a problem like Salvation?

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A short thought on Romans 2:17-3:8

Introduction:

To back track through the book of Romans up to this point to give us context you will find Paul telling the Church in Rome that the Jews have failed and so have the Gentiles. But the Jews who cling to their Old Covenant Law are Pauls target in this passage. What do I mean by that, well the Old covenant Law, the Law given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai? In this passage we find out how the Old testament Jews and those that crucified Jesus on the cross failed as well at living up to what God wanted, and what that means for the Jewish Christians Paul was writing too and as with all scripture what it means to us here in 2014. When I first looked at this passage I opened up my Bible to find it’s all about circumcision and Jewish law… Great I thought how on earth am I going to relate this to us here now, well actually it doesn’t take long to peel back the layers to find actually this is dripping in relevance to us.

So I have three Points for us to look at from this passage, the first of my three points is that the way to salvation has changed.

We find in the first few verses of tonight’s passage, Paul making a point explicitly just to the Jews, He is basically saying to them “you live by the Laws which you, even though you are teachers, cannot abide by.

If you were to think of the High jump at the Olympics where they have to jump over the bar and land on the big crash mat. Well imagine that bar is the old covenant law, but the bar is set higher than can be achieved by anyone because though people try, they will never be good enough. People will always fail somewhere, it’s part of our sinful nature. So if you were to imagine that’s what Paul is saying to them, “look the bar is far to high.”

But yet they Boast in the law look at verse 23 (You who boast in the law dishonour God by breaking the law. ESV) they say look at us we Keep the Law we are much better than any of you lot. But actually because they fail at keeping the law, look what Paul says happens Verse 24 (For as it is written “The name of God is being blasphemed among the Gentiles because of  you” ESV). See not only were they breaking the law yet still claiming they were better, they also were causing other nations to think less of God to even go as far as Blaspheme, how did they do that, well by not fearing God, by worshiping Idols. So why is all this such a big deal, well, its actually quite serious, because for Jews, keeping the Law was their guarantee of Salvation, But see we now know through the Good News of Jesus resurrected that the only way to salvation is through Jesus, as Jesus says in Johns gospel “I am the way, the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except by me.” Thankfully through Gods grace, he sent his son to die for our sins. Knowing that we will fail, he sent the ultimate sacrifice, the law was never there as an act of Salvation it was there to show the people of Israel that they needed a Saviour. Let me just repeat that, the law was never there as an act of Salvation it was there to show the people of Israel that they needed a saviour. See my point here in the first few verses is that the way to Salvation has changed, its now only through Jesus, not through the faithful obedience and fruitless attempts to keep God’s law. Now, does this mean because the Jews showed us it is impossible to keep the law for thirty seconds we should ignore laws like thou shalt not Murder, actually no it should encourage us more to try to keep the commands of Jesus, and when we fail – as we will – then to rest in trust in Jesus’ forgiving power.

So, the way of Salvation has changed, now secondly the sign of Salvation has Changed.

As the passage develops Paul brings up the issue of circumcision and can I say for all the men reading this, Amen to Paul’s decision. There is no doubting if you flick through the letters in the New testament to the new churches, the Big issue was circumcision, like today the big issue is women in leadership or Homosexuality. So, the issue is, should all Christians become Jews first? Well lets see what verse 25 says firstly (For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law y, your circumcision becomes Un-circumcision. ESV)

What Paul is saying here, is that if you break the law and are circumcised you have basically nullified the fact you are circumcised. This is because the act of circumcision is a sign of Obedience to God that you will follow his Law as a member of his People. But then look at verse 26 (So, if a man who is un-circumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his un-circumcision be regarded as circumcision. ESV ) so actually the whole circumcision thing is more a sign of your obedience. So how on earth are we to relate circumcision to us? Well, we now have a new different sign of our salvation and covenant with God, Baptism. We have the gift of Baptism, which you can choose to accept as a sign of you being part of Gods family and respond with faith, or you can choose to ignore Baptism by disobeying Gods command, If you did this it would be like your Un baptised.. So therefore what does this mean about Baptism, what does it stand for, why be baptised at all.

Well lets look at verse 28-29 (For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. ESV) this tells us therefore that like circumcision, baptism is an outward sign of an inward change. You have baptism to show others “look I am different! I have been saved!” it is not just a sign to others like circumcision was for the Jews that you are different, But a sign to God that you respond to your faith by obedience in being Baptised BUT, and I want to make this point. if you’ve been physically baptised with water, but aren’t trusting in the cross and resurrection then you’re not saved, baptism is only a signpost to our salvation not the actual thing that saves us.

When a family go for a picnic they drive their car to a beauty spot, park their car in the car park, get their picnic out then they wander over to the sign that says Picnic area this way. It would be weird if they set their picnic rug up under the signpost and have their picnic in the car park. No, the sign only points to the place where they’ll enjoy the view and their picnic. It’s the same if, in the Christian life, we stop at the signpost of baptism instead of the real deal of a relationship with our Lord and Saviour.

And if that’s you, if you have stopped at the signpost, and want that real deal of a relationship with our Lord and saviour then we have people here tonight who will gladly talk to you about that, Anyway back into the text look at verse 29 again (But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. ESV )

Paul tells us here, that circumcision – exactly like Baptism – is a Spirit thing, its like it says at the beginning of Ephesians, you have been sealed by the Spirit its like a big stamp that you find at the post office, which stamps on the item where you are going and who to, and if you believe in the Lord Jesus can i just say your stamp says Heaven. Praise God for that.

So, The way of Salvation has changed, now secondly

The sign of Salvation has Changed

Finally

All this sounds like change change change. For this reason there will be some liberals that will stand there and say that the God of the old testament is a different God, that God was having a bit of rough time and decided to relax and be nicer, be more loving when he sent Jesus. Well Paul tells us in the first part of Chapter 3 that is all wrong, the God of the New testament, OUR GOD is still the same God who Created the universe, the God who cast Adam and Eve out of Eden, the same God who sent the Plagues on Egypt the same God who forgave David his sins, the same God who said he would send a saviour, the very God who sent his Son to die for us on the cross, the very God who opened up a covenant of Grace with all on Earth who accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Look at verse 1-3 of chapter 3 (Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? ESV ) So what Paul is saying here is that, actually, to have been considered a Jew was a blessing. You were considered Gods people, you were entrusted with the promised land, and what if some Jews were unfaithful, God is so much more faithful than our minds can comprehend!!

Paul then turns the discussion towards those that say “sin” if it makes God look more righteous! Look at Verse 8 (READ) Paul says that’s silly. He tells the readers that they will be judged for that! God does not look just and righteous because of that! God looks Just and righteous because he has sent a Judge in Jesus to give people the chance to repent, so you either repent, or you face the consequences. If  a murderer  was to be set free and another a man  was charged people would be screaming injustice, and the same thing goes for Gods judgment. There is a line, you are innocent or guilty, of course as we have already seen there is no way on our own laurels we could ever be innocent, but by trusting in Jesus, that title of innocent is ours, but by rejecting Jesus by choosing to go your own way, well let’s just say “I’d turn round if I were you.”

To wrap up then:

Well there has been a lot in the passage. But hopefully what we can take from this is that the way to salvation has changed, it is now through Faith in Jesus Christ as your Saviour.

Secondly that the sign of our salvation of our covenant has changed we no longer have circumcision, we have baptism as an outward sign of an inward change. And finally that throughout the whole of time, we have had the same one true God, who is righteous, just and faithful and true at all times. So let’s pray that we don’t rest on our laurels, that we trust in Jesus and praise God that in him we have a just and faithful God.

God Bless
Gareth