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Religious Liberty and the Gospel

Conrad Vine
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Conrad Vine

President of Adventist Frontier Missions

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  • January 23, 2016
    12:15 PM
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For we begin. As we break when the bread of life today let's pot heads and ask God to break open our hearts so father. I ask that today. We come before you are sinners and we know we're sinners and father we reclaim the promise of a fusion situates in one that we saved by grace not of works lest any man or woman boy or girl should boast so Father's Day as we hear again the principles of liberty in the gospel I pray that the beauty of the gospel will take root in each of our lives and the gospel may flourish and be a thing of beauty that all may see Father I ask that you speak through me this morning and for me that your spirit whisper gently to every heart present here this is the way Waukegan it this I ask in Jesus name and. I quite like sports and when I was much younger I used to enjoy cycling I don't know if any of you enjoy cycling I used to really enjoy the Tour de France. I think the Tour de France is one the most incredible sports there is out there I like the teamwork you always have the team leader and then you have a cow about 3 climbers in the team and one time trial specialist and a couple of donkeys they kind of their job is to kind of keep the team going along through the Tour de France there's talk of France is incredible sports and when I was younger I used to go cycling in fronts we cynic over the channel from England and we'd go to the lawyer or show book or must say or down to Grenoble in the Alps and then I had my twin brother who's here today or some my other friends who knew a verse to we go cycling and we wanted to do the where where the where the cyclists went and the Tour de France and so one summer I went down to Grenoble took the train from Paris down to Grenoble I hope that's how you spell it pronounce it and from Grenoble we wanted to go up to the out to do a no if you follow the Tour de France you know the outdo way is the most famous climb in the Tour de France you start in the valley and there's a nice woman pool at the valley which I discovered that you start in the valley and you climb up $21.00 switchbacks of the side of a mountain you climb 3 and a half 1000 feet and 10 miles of steady climbing and there's no break in those 10 and a half miles you just go straight up and you go up the side of this mountain this massive and in the Tour de France as long as you know pumped by e.p.o. and other chemicals you can do that in about 45 to 50 minutes those guys are flying up the mountain and I'm not full of e.p.o. or chemicals and so it took me about an hour and 15 minutes to climb up those 10 and a half miles it's a climb I can tell you but even 10 and a one and a half hours is a good time to those 10 and a half miles at the side of a mountain. And when I got to the top my friend who was kind of a few switchbacks Bonneau me and he was still coming up and I could see from the way he was going that he was going to be a long time making those last few switchbacks so I was tired when you do a clam like that your legs feel like jelly kind of trembling and the need to and so I looked around where do I find a seat because this is on the side of a mountain and I saw there was a little chapel so I went up to the chapel and I pushed on the doors and it was open and I walked in I discovered it was a Catholic church it was a little chapel high in the mountains overlooking this beautiful Alpine Valley and I saw all these rows of pews I was so grateful for that Catholic chapel I plunked myself down and. You know when you go cycling in France you get rather saddle sore and you have to take anaesthetic cream with you and things like this and I sat myself down thought I'm kind of dirty here but I looked up and the church was empty this chapel and the door opened and old was and priest walked in and he walked to the front of the church and he stood with his back to me like this and I realize he was about to perform the mass and I'm just a horse drawn like man I'm going to sit through a mass I don't want to participate in a mass I sat there I thought well my friend has to help the mountain I'm really tired I'm just going to sit here and rest so I sat there and I I was breathing deeply and the guy was kind of going on in Latin so clearly was an old school Catholic Church and I didn't understand much of what he was saying. And I sat there through it and as I sat there in the church I start to take an interest in my surroundings. You notice that in a Protestant church we don't have a cross in here but in a Protestant church you always have across the front in a Catholic church Jesus is always on the cross if you notice that. Yeah the crucifix crisis always on the cross in a Catholic church because in Catholic theology we are saved by His stripes and by his sufferings they focus on the suffering of Christ in a Protestant church because we focus on the resurrection of Christ by His resurrection is declared with power to be the Son of God wrote Paul says Romans one we have empty crosses for Christ is not on the cross in a Protestant church I looked around and I saw these statues of saints and beneath them there were votive candles. And then there was there was a bowl of holy water and I looked around and there was a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the child in the diner and Child's and my thoughts kind of went on and I realized that this is church sitting in the heights of the Alps of southern France it represented so much falls with an error that had come into the pure gospel and if I would say read my Bible I wouldn't want to be I wouldn't want anything to do with a place like that because the Bible teaches a God of love and there is one intercessor between man and God Jesus Christ and we are not saved through the adoration of the Saints or the worship of Mary neither through works and so as I sat there waiting for my colleague my friend to join me how in barracks Acts Chapter 21st 2930 it's all Apostle Paul said to the elders of after says just before he left office is for the last time on his way to Jerusalem where he knew he was to be imprisoned and ultimately he was going to be executed this is what Paul said to the the elders of the Church of f. says he says this rhino this but after my departure savage wolves will come in among you not sparing the flock. Also from Mum yourselves men will rise up speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after themselves and so the Apostle Paul talks here about the fact that the earlier church would be corrupted primarily from the inside from inside he goes on to say in 2nd fastens Chapter 2 verses 3 and 4 he said Let no one deceive you by any means for that day will not come that is the coming of Jesus unless the falling away the word falling away is apostasy are Ok as we get word apostasy from and that's the apostasy comes 1st and the man of sin is reveals the son of perdition who opposes an exultant self above all that is called God or that is worshiped so that he sits as God in the temple of God showing himself that he is God And so the apostle Paul was very explicit that within the Apostol the church there will be an apostasy a fall in away from heavenly truth the Gospel would be corrupted as we're going to see this morning in 3 stages of our sermon 1st of all how did that apostasy into the church 2nd to bring about and thirdly what exactly is the pure gospel. So the 1st stage to more this morning is is how did darkness overwhelm religious liberty in the true Gospel Well there are a number of factors happened in the early centuries The 1st was the concept that the laity could not under some scriptures for themselves the idea that the Scriptures to be a closed book to all except those who were trained in the ancient languages people had to accept the teachings of the church there was so much chaos nearly Christendom in the 2nd 3rd and 4th centuries about the nature of Christ in the divinity of Christ and cetera et cetera that eventually a monk I came up with the idea he said that the scriptures are subject to the authoritative teaching of the church that concept of the authority to teaching of the church and that whereas in the episodic church the church sits underneath the Scriptures from the 5th century onwards with the idea of authoritative teaching now the church sits above scriptures and we tell you what the scriptures mean rather than you finding out for yourselves and submitting to it in your own lives and origin who is up on the screen there he taught that the scriptures are of little use to those who understand them as they are written is quite a statement yes John 316 a scripture reading that was read for us this morning apparently is of little use if you actually seek to understand it as it is written and so Origen introduce concepts of more metaphorical understandings of Scripture and that was one of the 1st stages of corruption entering the early church and then that the other factor into the church was the mass. Now the mass or the doctrine of the Eucharist was introduced by a month called. Which quite a name yes in the 9th century and what happened was that the teaching missionary commissioned by Christ that is the apostles in the disciples and the elders in every church were to labor in teaching preaching was replaced by sacrificing priesthood a pagan priesthood and in pagan worship in the in the early centuries of the Roman Empire the Mass was a ritual by which the sun god was worshiped by means of the symbolism of the round wafer of bread and if you and when I was not Catholic church I saw the priest holding up that way for a bread little round wafer and if you go to any Catholic Church you will see that round wafer it is a symbol of the Sun God and it represents a pagan ritual that entered the church now for United believe doctrine the Catholic doctrine says that that wafer that the guys holding up there turns literally into the Body of Christ and the wine you drink is literally the blood of Christ that it requires you to suspend your critical faculties you're no longer supposed to think for yourself you just have to believe that what you looked looks like bread and it feels like bread and it tastes like bread and it passes through me like bread is actually the body of Christ and think this doesn't make sense for the whole point is when you accept the doctrine of the mass you suspend your critical faculties and then you open to any superstition that is taught you because you already accepted the proposition that in the church you suspend your mind the 3rd doctrine the end of the church was the idea that man can be served saved not just by grace but by merit as well as Grace. And when there is no pure gospel there is no religious liberty and why do I say that because when salvation is wholly of Christ then we look solely to Christ for us salvation and the doctrine of grace frees us from dependence upon an earthly priesthood for us elevation when salvation is holy of Jesus and of no one else no one in priests around Bishop ambitious bishops can come between us and our source of salvation that is Jesus Christ as Paul said to Timothy for there is one God and one mediator between man and God the man Jesus Christ If however we are saved by a combination of grace and works then logically why not compel people to do those works conversion by coercion then becomes acceptable and justifiable for those in religious authority who can define what good works are acceptable to God and are salvific and which works are not acceptable to God and so any system that requires works as well as Grace feel salvation implicitly denies religious liberty and freedom of conscience because you can coerce people to do those good works in fact or good scene of Hippo hippo hippos in North Africa modern day choosier I think. He argues based on the teachings of Jesus the parables in Luke where the king he says to his servants go out and invite people to come in for the wedding feast and they go out and nobody comes so the king says his servants will go out to the highways and byways and persuade people to come and draw them in based on that parable now that we find in the Gospel of Luke I'm Augustine argue that the word persuade people to come in shows to be translated compel them to come and therefore the church can compel you to enter if necessary by torture and execution because once you are in the church you find salvation and it's for your own good that we torture you to join the church because once you're in the church you found salvation is not good news brothers and sisters so bear with me while I pull your fingernails out it's for your own eternal good. This led the way to the Inquisition and the burning of heretics at the stake in the 13th century pope nor'easter established the order of Dominique and monks they had to Judy and I quote the business of the one was to preach that's of the other was to slay those who in the 1st were not able to convert So there you have it the good news The 4th problem entered in the modern ancient Christendom was the concept of the Divine Right of Kings this started with a guy called Constantine the greats the Roman emperor who shifted the capital of Rome from Rome itself to the city and now we call it all the bridges between Europe and Asia and what he said to the bishops was this he said my quote you are bishops whose jurisdiction is within the church I am also a bishop ordained by God to overlook whatever is external to the church and so Augustine consequence unseen argue that while the bishops have authority over the church he is the Emperor was also set aside by God to rule in civil matters he had a divine right to be the Emperor and this concept of the Divine Right of Kings grew and grew and grew over the centuries when Pope Zachary made Pepin king of the Franks about $800.00 or so a.d. this Divine Right of Kings doctrine was now interpreted as the rights of the pope to appoint all kings on earth and the rights of the king in turn to govern the people the Popes then extended this to include the doctrine of passive obedience this stated that because the pope's cannot make an era anyone who challenged the king appointed by a Pope was guilty of heresy and was to be excommunicated you said what I've said yes if the pope's cannot make an era if you challenge a King who's been appointed by the pope you're actually a challenging the pope himself. And then they extended this to include priests so if you made a complaint about sexual abuse by Catholic priests or they were involved in murder or torture Wolf after whatever they wanted to do if you complained about the priests you were there for bike a definition guilty of heresy because you were challenging the authority of the pope it was a perfect system of religious tyranny the decision to merge church and state in the 3rd through the 6 centuries was a deliberate and calculated one on the part of ambitious products and bishops who wish to secure secular power to exalt their in the just goals and Christian emperors in the Byzantine Empire were encouraged to adopt the same pagan principle of motivated per pagan persecutions that is that political unity requires religious conformance the emperors 1st tried to persuade people to enter the church through the early church councils such as the Council of Nicea but then they progressed in the use of the swords when Forbes conformity the 1st martyrs the ambitions of the Roman bishops were created by Constantine's attempts to coerce the African bishops to adopt the Treaty of Rome now in order to bolster their power out of Rome there were 2 sets of forged documents maybe you've heard of these maybe you haven't the 1st was known as the testament of the Emperor Constantine in 77618 this was allegedly as a letter from the Emperor Constantine to the bishop of Rome called Sylvester in which the popes were allegedly given all over the Western Roman Empire and it was a forgery and even stay in the Vatican except this is a forged document the 2nd documents upon which church law was based would know the Falls to create rules of ice a dory now the cornerstone of canon law that is the Church law today this was allegedly series of letters from early pastors in Rome. And in the in those letters they talked about the authority of the bishop of Rome these were false documents that were forced on Western Europe to lay the foundation for church law canon law that still exists to this day a much of Catholic Canon Law continues to be built on these recognized forgeries now Pope Gregory he made some problems he was one of the proudest of the many evil pope's And he issued these these these statements these were his decree cols he used them to advantage and this is what he said the 11th maximum This is his letter to the Western Europe to the nations of Christendom is that the pope's name is the chief name on earth can anybody say mental that maybe not the 2nd he said the 12 maximum it says it is lawful for the pope to depose Emperor us he claimed all 30 over all civic rulers the 18th maximum so that the pope's decision is to be withstood by none that is you can never disagree with the pope that's pretty handy is it not the 19th decree call was that the pope can be judged by no one which means you must accept whatever the Pope says you have no right to have a question what he says the 25th there are that number a lot of the used them is that he promulgated was the pope has absolute will far to remove and appoint bishops that is the church the pope rules not just in civic matters he can appoint and deposed depose Kings You also has absolute right to appoint and deposed bishops and by extension all religious officers and 27th most frightening leave for the rulers of Western Europe the pope going to know the legions of subjects to Kings these were the claims of Pope Gregory in 1073 a.d. overall the conclusion we draw is this that the papacy had erected the most perfect blueprint for religious tyranny seen in human history and German the years of the Dark Ages tens of millions of faithful Christians perished. In many ways for refusing to accept the papal lies and for cherishing the pure gospel of Jesus Christ when you have when you do not have the gospel of Jesus Christ you cannot have religious liberty and so we're going to come shortly to what is the gospel of Jesus Christ but there is good news because God was not silent and God did not have his people faithfully serving him light did come in to to disperse the gloom of religious oppression and in the gloom of papal of oppression brave voices were raised in protest such as Ambrose of Milan Claudius of Turin and the war densities where many of us are familiar with the stories of the war dances now in response to these brave men and women boys and girls a powerful Poco Innocent the 3rd issued an edict in 12 o 9 authorizing the elimination of heretics and the Papacy launched Crusades within Europe not just crusades against the Muslim world but Crusades were launched within Europe to exterminate the heretics within Europe not just of all dances people like the Cathy of them for these were systematically hunted down and exterminated by Catholic Amin's and then in 1324 a man was born and little town he was born in 1320 lived through 1384 he was as we say as Protestants the morning star of the Reformation he was born in the noontide of papal supremacy and the midnights of religious freedom we need to understand this guy within his context so you know is born in 1320 which can drop back a few years to the 12 o 5 and in 12 o 5 you have this guy again Innocent the 3rd perhaps the greatest the most vainglorious the most proud of all the many evil pope's And he wanted to gave an example to all of Europe of his supremely fartsy in civil as well as religious matters and he claimed the right to appoint all of the bishops within every land. This is like Pastor Ted Wilson one day claiming the authority to personally name every pastor conference President departmental director in every conference and Union Church around the world would probably have a problem with that yes but this is kind of an obvious equivalent of what this guy was claiming he claimed authority to appoint every bishop in Christendom and in 12 o 5 The Archbishop of Canterbury died and King John of England he said well this is my candidate time going to appoint him as the new Archbishop of Canterbury and the local monks around cancer free they said no we want to elect this guy as a new Archbishop of Canterbury and they both appeal to Pope Innocent the 3rd and Pope Innocent 3rd he wanted to make a point he said I won't accept the king's choice I won't accept the monks choice here's a 3rd guy and he's the guy I want to just happens was that the pope in Rome had just appointed the 2nd most powerful office in the land the Kingdom of England. And the English barons were up in arms about this and the pope sent the French king all Gustus to fight to impose his will and in 1213 Philip Augustus brought a papal official and King John of England bowed and took off his crown that he put on the ground and he said I give the crown of England to the pope and the barons of England were mad as anything and they rose up in rebellion they rose up in rebellion against King John and they forced King John to sign one of the most important documents in Western civilization known as the Magna Carta they force the King John and they said we will not accept what you do with the pope we insist on basic civil liberties they want so much concern about religious liberty that time but they were concerned about civil liberties and the Magna Carta has the following principles of liberty principles that we today take for granted number one the rights of every man's be tried by a jury of his peers to appreciate that right would you want to have no trial by jury and secondly. No man's life liberty or property shall be taken from him except by the judgment of his peers and the law of the land which now that means that we are ruled by law not by individual rulers him or their whims today the 3rd principle was that the royal power was prevented from taking private property and the government had to pay compensation for whatever it took from you as a beautiful principle the 4th principle was this the owners of private property could be could dispose of their property as they so desired then if you question your right to spend your dollars as you wish that principles enshrined in the Magna Carta be grateful for those parents who fought for you a 100 years ago and 15 that unlawful punishments were prohibited that is the king could not torture you to force you to hand over your estate to him when when you died the king did not have the right to impose an unlawful punishment it's not been agreed by a jury of your peers and was not within the parameters of the law of the land that was the Magna Carta is the foundation for civil liberties in Britain today and in the United States now Innocent the 3rd he recognized the Magna Carta was a threat to his to his or farting and so he told the king to get rid of the Magna Carta and the barons rose in rebellion again and they forced the king to open the Parliament Parliament as a French word it means we're a place where you negotiate and if you go to the English Parliament if you see you seen pictures of the English Parliament you have the 2 sides on either side yes the governments on one side or the opposition on the other and you notice that there are white lines on the ground you know why those lines of their. It's because in ancient times everybody had a 6 foot great sword and those white lines are there so that you cannot cross that white line soon if you reach out with your 6 foot sword you can get somebody on the other side of the aisle as a practical reason why they have those lines there but the barons forced the King John to establish what we now known as the House of Commons the manic with the American equivalent of the House of Representatives thus undermining the Divine Right of Kings and the last king in England too who said I have a divine right to rule was childs the 1st if you know it's about English history he was beheaded by parliaments under the leadership of all of a crime one and that did away with the concept of the Divine Right of Kings and it was in this age that the Wycliffe was born Wycliffe was born in an era where the papacy was trying to enforce its or 30 is absolute right to rule and there were people in the nation of England who were pushing back and saying no the papacy does not have the right to determine every meaningful decision in our lives in our country and it's into this context that Wycliffe was born he was a brilliant scholar he entered Oxford at the age of 16 years and he graduated in 1345 at the age of 21 Wycliffe then spent 15 years as a professor before being appointed master of college in 136080 and it was in this capacity as the master of a little college like Luther many years later in vision book you have these young Catholic brilliant minds reading the books of Romans and the Psalms and realizing that we are saved by grace and not by works the Reformation started within the Catholic Church didn't start without the Catholic Church is started within the Catholic Church Wycliffe discovered in his readings of scripture and I say praise God for this that salvation is of grace and by grace. He realized that the foundation for the gigantic can bloodthirsty and oppressive religious political system established by the papacy that user up the place of Christ and kept Europe in abject servitude to misery was the doctrine that man can earn salvation by works of merit Wycliffe realize that he who can forgive controls the keys to the get to heaven and such a person is God to man and that authority was claimed by the Catholic priesthood who just became God to man with wrote the will book he called it objection to Friar's in which he declared that it was morally wrong to demand money for the forgiveness of sins and it was blasphemy to peddle indulgences he asked the question is it from the friars or from Jesus Christ that we obtain forgiveness for sins he asked and step by step the minds of men in England were led to watch the more fundamental question not what does the pope say but what does the Word of God say and we take our liberties for granted from the time of Wycliffe people were dying at the stake for even mentioning the possibility that the commoners could read the Word of God for themselves in fact the word of God in those days was the Latin Vulgate and most people in the Had no idea what Latin or how to interpret Latin it was a closed book to most people when 1365 this guy here Pope Urban the 5th he decided to send the English king a bill and he said when John signed over the the the English crown to the pope in 121212 a day this guy said you haven't been making payments for decades and you are the Pope money plus with interest and he sent this huge bill to the king of England Edward the 3rd. Edward the 3rd was a famous king he just thrashed the French in the battle of Cressy I think the areas that are so from the English perspective he was a wonderful king Ok but not from the French perspective. The battle of Cressy there Edward the 3rd was the most powerful Moloch in Europe and when the pope sent a bill to the English king this was a challenge to all the monarchs of Europe and if the king of England had to pay the principal plus interest for the last $100.00 or so years back to the pope if the Pope could do that to the king of England then every kingdom in Europe would grovel at the feet of the pope and the king of England that with a 3rd didn't know what to do about it but his chaplain in the chaplain of Parliament was John Wycliffe and Wycliffe said call the parliament together so they called the parliament barons and commoners and what they said in that parliament was quite astonishing barren after barren and commoner after common stood and said we will not accept the authority of the pope over the affairs of this nation. There was an angry mood in the parliament and finally they voted that the part of the pope had no authority over Earth any earthly kingdom it was a profound victory for religious liberty but it was really Wycliffe victory we could have made a trip to Rome to represent the king of England in some negotiations and he came away convinced like Luther many years later that Rome was the anti christ of Scripture he wrote the gods of Rome avarice ambition and hypocrisy he then attacked adoption of transubstantiation in the mass Roman system that without the mass you cannot be saved Wycliffe insisted that we should use our reason in our walk with God and the evidence of our sensors and if it looks like bread and it smells like bread and it tastes like bread and it feels in your mouth like bread that probably is bread. And he attacked the doctrine of transubstantiation which is the heart of Catholic power. Because the who the church gives mass to says you are in the church and you are saved and who the church withdraws the mass from defines you are therefore we lost the masses the hearts of Catholic power and the hearts of Catholic oppression of the Gospel Wycliffe insisted that we must use reason and you just laid the foundation for modern science and modern learning today we think that science and learning are completely opposed to each other the science and scriptures look through your history brothers and sisters it was because of great theologians that we have the modern scientific revolution today it was scientists of theologians who insisted that we use reason and God says Come the reason together it was theologians who said we must lift our eyes from the superstition and we must study things as they are that flayed the foundations for the industrial revolution the scientific read scientific revolutions of the West well and $1378.00 urban the 5th died and the College of Cardinals elected an Italian replacement but the French Cardinals didn't agree and so they elected a Frenchman as pope it was the year of the 2 popes so that he wrote there gave rise to a question Who was the true keeper of the keys of salvation was it the French pope the Italian pope the French pope said the Italian pope is anti christ the Italian pope says the French protos and the French pope is anti christ and Wycliffe protract and says they're both telling the truth. But more fundamentally. What is truth as pilot us Jesus and what is your thought source of authority on earth Wycliffe published a book called on the truth and meaning of scripture and you argue that the truth was to be found in the Word of God. But more radically he argues that every man woman or child has a responsibility to read it and understand it for themselves we take it for granted say this was a revolutionary thing to say 600 years ago. But you realize that the in England's The the the the Bibles were kept chained in the churches you had to get permission to open a Bible and even if you did open it was in Latin a foreign language to most people so wicked decided to put his mouth was money was to put his money where his mouth was I guess and he decided to translate the Bible into English and this is I pulled out from Lime under his library yesterday I'll take it back tomorrow there are a 1000 versions of this in the world this is copy number 250 and you can't see it very well but is really hard to read this kind of stuff is a beautiful addition there are 1000 of these in the world today this is the New Testament Wycliffe translation people were burnt at the stake for even admitting they knew where one was put these lay preachers Louds travelled the length and breadth of England Wycliffe was determined that one day the common Plowboy would know the Scriptures better than the Pope and he was probably right the moment they learnt even a single text. As a story of a pope the time of Luther or the Archbishop of car of Mainz in Germany somebody gave him a copy of the Bible which he'd never seen before this cardinal and he opened and he read a bit and says I know not what this book is but of a truth that is opposed to everything we believe. We may not understand it just looking at this old Middle English script but this laid the foundations for the reformation It's a beautiful book. Ok I say go back and see a Monday at the library a precious document Wycliffe taught. You this text is that we are to be always ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope is in you with meekness and with fear all Wycliffe taught was that we are to know whom we believe and what we believe and why we believe it and we need to be ready to share it at a moments notice. We have to be the lights of the world not to be a Bush light hid under a bushel we ought to know the real what we believe in whom we believe and what we're looking for the blasted hope and that hasn't changed from the time of Peter through to today Wycliffe understood that all laws in every nation have a moral basis and the laws of any nation merely reflects the underlying religious worldview of legislators and the divine Magna Carta the scripture reveals that we are created beings with an alien inalienable rights and if you remove the concept of a creator from your society and your inalienable rights as God's creatures vanish what is left are temporary privileges granted by the new God to the secular state and what the state gives it can just as easily take away thus we see in the West the steady secularization here in America and in Britain my country and the elimination of a Protestant and Judeo Christian worldview in our legislature will lead inevitably as it did in secular Nazi Germany in secular Soviet Russia so the elimination of civil and political and religious liberties same sex marriage is millions symptom of the underlying abandonment of God in Western society and is a road markings of our descent into political tyranny civil chaos and spiritual darkness that is the path we're going in the West so what was this gospel the Wycliffe was talking about well. The 1st stage is this if you ever heard the gospel before this is for you recognize our desperate need for help I need help because I'm a sinner when I bow down in the morning I say that sinners pray God be merciful to me a sinner over life you crew many kind of titles and job descriptions of what kind of stuff but the bottom line is I'm a sinner we're all sinners the Word of God says this as it is written there is none right just no not one for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the wages of that sin is death. So the 1st stage in us begin being saved is a recognized our desperate need for help I cannot work my way out of my predicament the last I checked him out of what I do or do not eat or how I treat my brother and sister it does not change the fact that my hair is going gray I'm getting slower by the year Ok I'm aging is part of living in a sinful world being a sinful human being so the 1st stage of the gospel to recognise our desperate need for help The 2nd stage of the gospel is to understand as in our scripture reading that yes I need help and there is a God who loves me personally you say amen to that John 31617 for God's love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life my favorite verse next For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world without through but that the world through Him might be what So God's purpose is my salvation and your salvation is wonderful news God did not send Jesus in the world to point the finger he pointed to the Jesus God sent His Son to the world to beckon us to happen so the 1st stage of salvation is understand my desperate need of help the 2nd stage of salvation is to understand that God loves me and he wants to save me the 3rd stage of salvation is to look in faith Jesus the Son of God dying in my place on a hill called Calvary as the Apostle Paul said to the church of current delivered to you 1st of all that which I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures that he was buried and he rose again on the 3rd day according to the Scriptures the 1st thing that Paul wanted people to know is that Jesus died for my sins and he didn't just die for my sins as a random act it was according to the Scriptures which means Jesus' death had a purpose and there was a plan and there was a time scale he came in the fullness of time that God had a plan for your salvation and my salvation that your salvation is not an afterthought is not an emergency protocol that God put in place God has wanted from eternity for you and I to be saved. It is good news is not brothers and sisters the 4th stage of salvation is we don't just look in faith to Jesus dying in our place on Calvary But then we believe that he is Jesus of Nazareth is the divine Messiah of God come to deal with mice in problem John 2031 but these things are written that is the Gospel of John that you may believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah that is the Christ the Son of God and that believing you may have what in his name he says the wages of sin is but the gift of God is eternal. So we believe in Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah the divine Messiah of God the next stage of salvation is we confess and turn away from our sins and the concept of repentance Metta knowing Greek as you're walking one way and you don't just say I'm sorry and spores for a moment and carry on walking the concept of forgiveness or repentance as you're walking one way in life you realize you're a sinner this is a terrible thing I'm doing on breaking God's law and you turn around and say no more and I walk in the opposite direction I actually walk away from my sins I don't just temporarily stop my sins I ask God to give me the strength and the grace to turn around and to walk away from them and have nothing further to do with them so we can fast and we turn away from our sins in the promises given to us that if we confess our sins famous passage he was faithful and just to forgive us our sins and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness how much and righteousness not some of your own righteousness but all your own righteousness that everything I ever wished I had never done every Could have would have should of is washed away and I need not sit in the pews with a burden of guilt or fear or shame because God has washed me of all my own righteousness and what God washers and cleansers I don't need to 2nd guess the next stage of salvation Mark 1616. He who he who believes in is baptized shall be saved the used to be that circumcision was the entry point into God's covenant people from Abraham onwards but from the time of Christ on was circumcision was done away with and now all may enter God's covenant people anyone here today May into God's covenant people by being baptized by following Jesus through the watery grave and having our sins washed away and as Peter says be baptized and receive forgiveness to be baptized to be filled to the Holy Spirit then you believe you receive the gift of eternal life by grace you have been saved through faith not not of yourselves it is the gift of God Not of works lest anyone should boast there is no reason for any Christian to boast of that in the cross of Christ and what he's done for us the Gospel doesn't say you have to be so good before you can be saved the Gospel doesn't say God can only forgive certain sins but some of the on the pale God can remove any sin from our lives if we simply confess it before Heavenly Father it is by grace you have been saying it is God's gift to us and we just celebrated Christmas I don't know how it is in your family but in my family and it goes like this I won't say which one it isn't that's my oldest It goes something like this dad when we open our presents because they're sitting under the Christmas tree while in England we open them on Christmas morning well I understand that but the Christmas Day starts on Sunset Christmas Eve doesn't it. I why I guess that's true so we can open them on Christmas Eve. I guess there's a Biblical argument for that well then goes Yeah but if we can open on Christmas Eve How about 9 am in the morning on Christmas Eve while I'm not too sure about that over we can open on Christmas Eve Why not the day before Christmas Eve in the evening and you work your way back in so you'd have to draw a line in the sand somewhere I don't hear the point about Christmas is that anybody still have an unopened gift under the Christmas tree. We are all eager to open that gift whatever it was I agreed with my wife no gifts and shoes or a shirt for a really good price and it was under the Christmas tree and I was horrified to get this gift on Christmas morning because I hadn't got my wife a gift. You know there's a basic lesson Ok whenever you have an agreement like that never honor it. Or point I'm making is that not one of us has left the gift of grace a Christmas gift under the Christmas tree so why do we live our lives not accepting the gift of God's grace to us on a daily basis why do we live our lives wondering what God's goodness means to us when it's waiting for us to open it and to receive it for ourselves by faith and the final stage of salvation is to witness about your faith in Jesus Christ you don't just receive salvation we are transformed that we might be the lights of the world in the salt of the earth if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead you shall be what saved and the idea that if you confess with your mouth and when Paul was writing this in the early church this wasn't just a casual you know Facebook posting I'm now a Christian what was happening in the early church was that Christians were being hauled before the Roman courts and they were being told that you must offer incense to Caesar and say that Caesar is Lord Kaiser Curiosus or Caesar curious and the Christians will say No Jesus is Lord use was curious and if you refused to say Caesar curious Caesar is Lord and offer the incense you'll be executed you are you it's a witness and so when Paul says if you confess that verb there confess isn't just a casual say I'm a Christian is when the when the rubber meets the road when everything is on the line when it should job or your marriage or whatever it is you need to say I am a Christian give an example of that many years ago and it was many years ago I was a young undergraduate an English university and. I could of like I didn't have much money as any student does so. I had to choose between a car and a girlfriend I chose the car and. In my final semester I kind of looked at my spreadsheets and figured I can afford a girlfriend so I had a girlfriend and I'm not a very romantic guy and. In England in the in the spring semester before all the graduates go through your exams. And when I was going through university in England your entire exam your grade for your degree hung on your final exams which last about 3 weeks maybe 3 or 6 hours of exams every day and it was really stressful and just before the final exams the the the big companies the corporations from London the engineering companies the accounting companies law firms they come what is called the milk round milk round is all big companies come to the universities and try to milk off the cream of the crop and I was interviewed by a number of corporations and I was offered a job in the city of London that was going to be better for the age of 30 I would retired a multi-millionaire it was a great job offer and in my interview there was a it was a Jewish partner he said I know you're an Adventist and you one of the Sabbath was yes he says now we will you can have the job but on one condition I said yes he said we want you to agree that we're not requiring you to work on the Sabbath but if during one order to the city of London you are required once a year to come in on the Sabbath to cover for somebody else you have to agree to do that you just have to be available for one Sabbath in the year for audit and all this wealth will be yours I looked at him and I thought about this text if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ is Jesus Lord of my life or not I said I'm sorry so you're a Jew you should be asking me that and so the job offer was withdrawn when I went home I called my girlfriend I said well this is what happened and she tore me apart. As I listened to her going on about this I realized that this could never be my wife because your faith in your confession affects every decision in your life it's not just something you politely say your confession of faith when you are born again you're saved by grace and hope in that wonderful gift which teenage boy today who gets let's say an i Pod for Christmas isn't going to have all his friends cause they shared around him if you got a beautiful sweater or we call jumper in England for Christmas but you tell people what a beautiful sweater you're proud of it you're happy about your overflowing with joy and so part of being saved is yes when the rubber hits the road is confessing that we are the followers of Jesus Christ what happens when we are saved Well 1st thing there are 2 things that happen one is we are justified Romans 324 we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus I ask myself what does redemption mean and justification justification means that God declares the penitent sin a righteous and innocent it is the opposite of condemnation is therefore as Paul says in Romans no condemnation for those are in Christ Jesus it is God's gift to us freely given to all who turn to God in faith justification scripture means having a right relationship with God It means acquittal of the guilt of our sins it means a sinner being counted right just by God receiving divine forgiveness and exchanging the slavery to same for the Lordship of Jesus Christ and therefore Romans 518 says we receive the justification of life for the wages of sin is. But the gift of God in Christ Jesus is eternal life justification is an initial And it's an on going pro process we are not once saved always saved we are justified when we are born again and we need justification we daily submit our lives to our Heavenly Father just we cations what God does for us the theologians call it imputed righteousness but it also means what God does in us and that is commonly known as sanctification sanctification has 3 stages everything works in threes in Scripture you know that when you're a preacher 1st is this when you are sanctified God sets you apart as one of the saints Paul writes The Church of current to the Church of God which is at Corinth to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus called to be saints if you read the book of Corinthians what you know about the book or the church that was a troublesome church they were split with all kind of factions and politicking and lobbying all the rest of it but they're still saying it's when we are born again and we receive the gift of salvation God sets us apart for a holy purpose that means we have the sayings the heavy oil that means holy we become God sayings partakers in the plan of salvation called to bear a ministry of reconciliation as ambassadors of Christ to our fallen world the 2nd thing that happens in sanctification is what is called progressive sanctification Titus 35 captures it says but according to His mercy He saved us through the washing of what regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit so we are set aside as the Saints you may not feel like you're a saint but when you accept Logie Jesus Lord and Savior baptized you are set aside as a saint God considers you a saint you may not feel like it but you are then through the rest of your life you have the experience regeneration and renewal otherwise known as the fruit of the spirit we mature in grace we grow in grace and God transforms our mind and we become a new creation we no longer demonstrate the fruits of the flash but God brings an inner transformation with the harvest of the fruit we live for holiness. And finally. We are set aside and sanctification we are renewed in sanctification and final stage of sanctification what we call glorification Behold I tell you the mysteries of the Apostle Paul we shall not all sleep but we shall be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye at the Last Trumpet for the trumpets will sound in the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed Amen we will be changed the ultimate Lord for cation happens when Jesus Christ comes again so finally. There are storm clouds gathering around our world today. Whether you look at Islam or the resurgent papacy or the intolerance of the secular elites of America all I fondly fundamentally opposed to the Gospel and to religious liberty so today then is the day of salvation so I want to challenge each and every one of you not to leave that gift on opened just as none of us would think of leaving a Christmas present unopened middle of January it should also be unthinkable in our lives that we wouldn't accept the gift of God salvation freely offered to all who confess and repent and believe when I was 13 I went to a camp meeting I was a teenage boy I do way with heart and the preacher spoke about the Prophet Hosea who was told to marry a loose woman called Gomer and she kept running away from him and God kept saying to Jose go after him bring her back I heard that sermon from a Jamaican revival as preacher and he said that is God's love for wayward hearts he keeps coming after you and when he did the altar call I went for the age of 13 a big company to I gave my life to Jesus Christ and to quote Polycarp the further north most famous Christian martyrs of the by 165 uses Pollack upset when he was arrested he said for 6 and 4 score years I have served my king and he has done me no wrong why should I deny him. And that is my testimony today for 3 and 2 score years I've served my king and he has done me no wrong why should I deny him brothers and sisters the gospel is the best news you've ever heard it's changed my life and it continues to change my life for anybody here who is sitting with a sense of would've could've and should've he was sitting with a sense of shame or a burden we're covering. We need to know today that God loves you He sent His Son to save you he's not pointing his finger in his back into heaven he's invited you into his car. This media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more servant leader visit w w w audio verse or.

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