The Fourth Rocky Road Epistle Chapter 4

Last Sunday morning service in church was a wonderful time. Using the media of YouTube we shared with other Baptist Churches in the Baptist Union Assembly service. It was uplifting to hear of what God is doing and the word that speaker Shane Claiborne brought, was challenging and inspiring. To say nothing of the drama based on the “Sheep and Goats” passage in Matthew chapter 25. It was retold with people split into fans of Star Trek and fans of Star Wars. It had to be seen to be believed! If you have a chance, it is worth seeing, look for Baptist Assembly 2021 on the YouTube channel.

We all need to be challenged and inspired. God has been doing that through the pandemic. He has been shaking us out of normal routines and showing us what really matters. I hope we do not forget the lessons of trusting Him and the need of fellowship. The challenge from last year’s president of the Baptist Union was “Where do we grow from here?” We are planning a church day in July to talk and pray together about where God is leading us.

This Sunday (provided the weather is alright) we will be outside to celebrate Pentecost. We have permission to use the Athletic Club’s back carpark to keep our carpark clear. Use the entrance off Pollard Street. It will be super to be able to sing with each other. Yet not being able to sing inside reminds me of the freedom we actually have – that may sound a contradiction. Some persecuted Christians have to meet in secret and cannot sing. I would dare to suggest that their worship without any singing is as heartfelt, if not more so, as ours. Worship comes from worth + ship, it means giving God his rightful place in our lives because He is worthy. Worship comes out of our daily walk with God and the whole of our lives should be an act of worship to God. Singing comes from our worship and helps us worship. But worshipping together is important with or without singing. Think about it another way, singing does not automatically mean we are worshipping God, that depends on our heart.

Zoom Bible Study

We are continuing with Zoom Bible Study fortnightly.

The next one is on Wednesday 26th May, at 7.15pm for 7.30pm start,

and we are continuing our wander through Romans.

Romans 2 v.1-16, “Whose judging who?”

All are welcome to join - please ask Laura for details. Or if you prefer to do this Bible Study at home, then read the passages several times and consider the following questions.

  1. The Swiss Christian Doctor, Paul Tournier wrote “A man's judgment of another depends more on the one judging and on his passions than on the one being judged and his conduct.” Do you agree with this?

  2. What four things are said about God’s judgement in verses 2,6,11 and 16? What else do you learn about it in the passage?

  3. By what general test will God judge people? (see verses 7-10). How will this bring condemnation on a) Self-righteous person, b) the Gentile, and c) the Jew?

  4. How does our view of God impact our view of God’s judgement? Can you think of any other Biblical examples of judging? Is there anyone we should judge?

The next Bible Study will be on 9th June.


Reflection

From Phillip based on 2 Corinthians 3 v.1-18
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”

As I write this on Monday morning (17th May) England is relaxing another set of lockdown restrictions. Among other changes, six people or two households can meet indoors, pubs and restaurants can serve customers inhouse, hugging is allowed (although people are urged to be cautious) and care home residents can have up to five named visitors and more freedom for visits outside of the home. That last statement, “freedom for visits outside of the home” only makes sense when we appreciate that care home residents have, for reasons of safety, been confined to their homes for over a year.

In a similar way in a new film biography, Sir Alex Ferguson (former manager of Manchester United) talks movingly about being given three extra years. Yet without knowing that he had a life-threatening bleed to the brain in 2018, “three extra years” is meaningless.

To understand one side of a case we need to be aware of the other. Freedom can only be appreciated when it is contrasted with the alternative. Therefore, when Paul wrote to church at Corinth, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3 v17), we need to be aware of the restrictions that the freedom was releasing them from. The contrast is between a new life in Jesus with a former life under the Old Testament rules. In the past God’s people had required a go-between, such as Moses, to communicate with the Lord. Although Moses received the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments from God and spoke directly with him, as one would talk with a friend (Exodus 33 v11), there were still limitations to be observed. For example, Moses was not allowed to see God’s face. However, because Moses had experienced the presence of the Lord, he had to hide his face behind a veil in case the radiance of his appearance blinded the Israelites. Hence why in 2 Corinthians 3 verse 14 Paul writes that previously there was a veil between the people and God, but because of Jesus Christ, that veil (barrier) is now gone. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we no longer have to hide from God. Through the Holy Spirit which Jesus sent, we have the freedom to come into God’s presence. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred on the Day of Pentecost when all the believers were gathered in one place and heard a sound like a violent, rushing wind. “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Act 2 v3-4).

In 2 Corinthians chapter 3, Paul explains that the Holy Spirit that first appeared at Pentecost is there for all believers and gives us life (2 Corinthians 3 v6). The old system with its stone tablets was glorious but led ultimately to death. However, now that we have the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us, engraved not on stone but upon our hearts (2 Corinthians 3 v7-10), we have freedom to enjoy complete and unfettered access to God, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”.


Please pray for our Mission of the Month – Christian Aid.