I had a really interesting conversation this last week on the subject of what proportions of sermons here should be on which parts of Scripture. (I said that I try to aim at 1/3 each of Old Testament, Gospel, and rest of New Testament - after using some weeks for the occasional topical series).
THE Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies and authority in controversies of faith; and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God’s word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ: yet, as it ought not to decree anything against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce anything to be believed for necessity of salvation.
Yesterday, I had two very interesting conversations after church services, which set off the following thoughts. (What follows is not something I said to either person, although it might have been helpful if I had done).
Many English Bibles print the words of Jesus in red.
Lots of people's discovery of the Christian faith goes something like this:
They start out thinking that it's all about being good. If we're good enough, God might just accept us.
They then discover the wonderful news the Bible calls "grace". Jesus did not come to call people to be good; he came to show us we could never be good enough, so that we can receive God's kindness as a gift we could never earn. We need Jesus as our saviour.
But then that leads to confusion: If God's grace is free and undeserved, does it matter how I live? Can't I live as I please?