Failed Predictions

Dear Grace Family,

The antics of Mr. Harold Camping have made headlines.  All last week leading up to May 21st people were talking, joking, and unfortunately some believed his predictions.  I sat at a track meet and could overhear various theories and explanations coming from people in the stands.  It was a hot topic for many and for different reasons.

Well another end time prediction came and went.  To keep up with his failed prediction, our friend Harold Camping has now revised his findings saying that he had it wrong.  That May 21st was really Christ’s spiritual coming and Oct. 21st will be His true coming.  Well…time will tell.

Through it all, I have two concerns; one is that people will begin to think Christianity is nothing but an old man making predictions that never come true.  Since he’s been wrong now on at least two other occasions and since he claims to use the Bible to make these predictions/guesses that the Bible simply cannot be trusted.  Second, this may cause some of the followers of Christ to not live in anticipation that He could return at any time.  Let’s not allow the antics of this man to weaken out trust in the promises that Jesus Himself made.

Mar 13:32  “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  33  Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.

Grace to you and peace,

Pastor Brian

Sermon: A Most Unexpected Disciple (Luke 7:1-10)

Click Here for Audio Luke 7.1.10

A Most Unexpected Disciple

Today’s passage is about a Roman soldier who had heard about Jesus’ power to heal.  This Roman soldier was called a Centurion because he was in charge of 100 men.  He was also what was known in the technical sense a God-Fearer.  He was a Gentile worshipper.  This man was well loved by all who knew him even his enemies, the Israelites.

The Centurion Commander is Luke’s illustration of what Jesus had just finish teaching His disciples.  The Centurion is the one who did good deeds toward his enemies; he gave to his enemies as he built from his own funds the synagogue in Capernaum.  He behaved correctly whether or not this love was ever returned to him.  This man not only heard the Word of God but was Luke’s example of a man who built his house on the rock solid foundation of that Word…he sends for the Master.  He hears of Jesus and acts.  He is a doer and not a hearer only.  This Centurion is the example of one who loves supernaturally.  As Jesus told us to love without expecting anything in return, we see in this account one who loves his slave.  He loves someone who most would despise and mistreat.  He loves his servant.  He also loved the Nation of Israel.  Normally Roman Leaders hated their slaves and mistreated them.  They hated their enemies.  Here, this man loves those who are his enemies.

This Centurion is the theological connection between Jesus’ sermon to His disciples found in Luke 6.  Jesus preaches what a disciple is to be and do and then Luke records for us a wonderful example of Jesus’ teaching incarnate.  We see in Luke 6 the theory of discipleship and in Luke 7 a living example of discipleship. Truly, this Centurion is a most unexpected disciple.

This text teaches us about the power of Christ and the unworthiness of man.  It shows us that Jesus is amazed when great faith is exercised.  We also see that love transcends social ranks and Christian love especially is greater than any status or ranking we may see established in today’s society.  Continue reading “Sermon: A Most Unexpected Disciple (Luke 7:1-10)”

Sermon: The Life of a Disciple (Luke 6:39-49)

The Life of a Disciple

 We’ve all seen pictures of the flooding along the Mississippi River.  We’ve seen pictures of people wading through their homes removing their belongings.  We’ve seen pictures of homes being swept away or a farm under water except for the house and tractor.  The flooding in the South is severe.  There’s not much that can withstand the power of the great Mississippi, however, if a house is going to survive the flood it must be well built.

In this section of Scripture Jesus is showing us that as we build the house that represents our lives, we’ve got choices to make.  Everyone is building this house.  We all make choices based on the information we have.

What is the beginning of a strong house?  If the house of my life is to be strong, it must have a solid foundation.

The point Jesus is making in this section is really two-fold.

If you are going to be able to stand in this world, you must first take in biblical truth and secondly, you must build your lives on this rock solid truth.  Like always, doing the Word is as important as hearing the Word.  This is really Jesus’ emphasis here in this section. Continue reading “Sermon: The Life of a Disciple (Luke 6:39-49)”

Planks in Our Eyes; Specks in the Eyes of Others by Ian Hamilton

Grace Community Church,

Please take a few minutes to read this article in preparation to hear more from Jesus on this subject in worship this Lord’s Day.  Our text is Luke 6:39-49.

God Bless,

Pastor Brian


Planks in Our Eyes; Specks in the Eyes of Others

By Ian Hamilton From Banner of Truth Website

Our Lord Jesus’ teaching is always deeply searching, sometimes almost unbearably so. Few statements of our Lord are more calculated to search out our hearts than what he says about ‘specks’ and ‘planks’ (Matt. 7:1-5). The picture conveyed by our Lord is almost comical. A man with a huge plank of wood sticking out of his eye, says to another man who is troubled by a speck of wood in his eye, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’. There is no doubt the man with the speck in his eye needs help. The speck needs to be removed, before it causes him greater problems. It is a little problem, but it is a real problem, and needs removing. But who is to remove the speck? Certainly not the man with the plank sticking out of his eye! Of all people, he is least suited and fitted to do the job. Why? Because, while he sees that the man with the speck has a problem, he is blind to the even greater problems in his own life. His ‘plank’ has blinded him, made him insensible to his own great need. In trying to take the speck out of the other man’s eye (if his plank would even allow him to know what and where the speck was!), the man with the plank would do great damage.

Jesus is not saying that ‘specks’ don’t matter. Everything in our lives matters to God. If there are things wrong in our lives, they need to be dealt with, removed. When Jesus says in Matthew 7:1, ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged’, his words have often been misunderstood. Our Lord is not saying absolutely that we are not to judge. Indeed, in verse 6, Jesus encourages us to make judgments: ‘Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs’! What, then, does Jesus mean? His illustration is surely obvious: the man with the plank sticking out of his eye is the man who only too clearly sees sins in others, but is acutely blind to recognising the sin in his own life. Indeed, he is blind to the fact that the sin in his life is greater than anything he sees in the lives of others. He is a ‘censorious man’. This was one of the besetting sins of the Pharisees.

This spirit of censoriousness is only too common. We can all, only too easily, slip into this sin, for sin it is. What is often missed here, is the fact that the censor usually has a point. There are specks, lots of them, and they need pointing out and removing – but not by those who are ‘holier than thou’. In pastoral ministry – and all Christians are pastors to one another – the application of truth is not the only objective. We are told of our Lord Jesus, ‘A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out’. He knows our frame, but he remembers we are dust! The spirit in which we comfort, counsel and rebuke one another is of paramount importance.

Paul urges Timothy to ‘gently instruct’ those who oppose him, and reminds the censorious Corinthians, ‘Love is patient, love is kind . . . it is not self-seeking . . . Love . . . rejoices with the truth’.

In pointing out the sins of others, boldness is usually needed, and many of us shrink from that. But no less is tenderness needed, the tenderness of the One who was so extraordinarily patient and forbearing with his errant and slow to learn disciples.

It’s not hard to see ‘specks’ – they are everywhere. It’s also not hard to see ‘planks’, except when it’s your own plank. May the Lord preserve us all from ‘holier than thou’ spirituality. It has at least one distinguishing feature – it prizes the ‘head’ more than the ‘heart’. Of course, they belong together, the former nourishing the latter. But only too easily, as we see in Scripture and in the history of the church, they can be separated, and spirituality becomes metallic, clinical, and sadly often censorious.

The most effective antidote to such censoriousness is conformity to our Lord Jesus. None were holier than he, none were gentler than he. So Paul could write, ‘be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children . . .’

Ian Hamilton is Pastor of the Cambridge Presbyterian Church, now worshipping God on Sunday mornings in All Saints’ Church, Jesus Lane, Cambridge and in the Lutheran Church, Huntingdon Road, on Sunday evenings.

Sermon: The Gospel’s Great Foundation (Luke 6:37-38)

Click Here for Audio Luke 6.37.38

The Gospel’s Great Foundation

Last week we began to look at the hard sayings of Jesus when it comes to how a disciple is to treat one’s enemy.  We were challenged in different ways as we heard Jesus say that we are to love our enemies.  Jesus not only commanded us, as His disciples, to love our enemy but He spent time explaining how that great and challenging task is to be carried out.  We are to do good deeds for our enemies, we are to speak well of our enemies and we are to pray for our enemies.  Jesus went on to tell us that as God’s representatives in this fallen world, we are to treat others according to how our Heavenly Father has treated us.

We see this when in verse 36 He says that we are to be merciful because our Heavenly Father is merciful.  In other words, we are to treat others the way God has treated us.  When we deserved judgment He has shown mercy.  When we deserved death because of our sin He has shown us life.  Continue reading “Sermon: The Gospel’s Great Foundation (Luke 6:37-38)”

Sermon: The Gospel’s Great Reward (Luke 6:27-36)

The Gospel’s Great Reward

If you remember, last time we were in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus began to teach His disciples what Kingdom living is to be like.  His purpose was to set their minds on the things of God.  His purpose was to show them what proper values and behavior look like now that they are God’s children.

Luke 6:22 (ESV) 

    “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 

Luke 6:26 (ESV) 

    “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

Jesus is now building on the idea that living as a believer; we are really foreigners in this world.  Because we have a different set of values and a different world view all together, there are going to be people who don’t like us, hate us, and even persecute us.

What Jesus gives us now is how these words apply in various situations.  Jesus gives us some very difficult words to live by…He has gone from preaching to meddling.—L. Duncan

Remember, Jesus is creating a people for God…ones that have a different set of standards and ones who Love Christ and the Gospel above all things.  In teaching about how we are to behave toward our enemies, Jesus is really exposing a counterfeit gospel and putting in its place the real gospel.  He is also exposing our treasure.  Are we seeking Christ and His kingdom or are we seeking the praise of men?

Please hear God’s Word…

Luke 6:27-36 (ESV) 

    “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  [28] bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  [29] To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.  [30] Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.  [31] And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

    [32] “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  [33] And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  [34] And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.  [35] But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  [36] Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

May the Lord cause us to love in the same way He has loved us… Continue reading “Sermon: The Gospel’s Great Reward (Luke 6:27-36)”

Easter Sermon 2011

A Resurrection Survey

The church has been celebrating Easter for literally 100’s of years.  Easter is the church’s celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The resurrection is when Jesus came back to life by the divine power of God after He had been crucified and died three days before.  What were the crucifixion and then subsequently His resurrection all about?  Why did Jesus die?  Was it a story of a prophet who went too far and things got out of control or was it the divine plan of God?

To answer the question why did Jesus die, we need to start in the Book of Genesis with the account of Adam and Eve.

1- Adam’s Sin and Our Need for a Savior

Genesis 2:16-17 (ESV) 

    And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,  [17] but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Continue reading “Easter Sermon 2011”