Let me ask you a question: Do you need to be good in order to go to heaven? Do you have to do good works, good deeds, to get to heaven? That is a really important question, is it not? Because where you spend eternity really matters. This life we live in now is short; the most any of us will get is probably 100 years, relative to which eternity is a very, very long time. So where you get to spend eternity, well, there is no more important question for you than that.
Well, like almost every grown-up, I have forgotten almost everything they taught me when I studied for my GCSEs. However, when we did GCSE English, we had to read some novels of a 19th-century author called Thomas Hardy. Not to be confused with the present-day actor of the same name.
So many things feel uncertain. We don’t know what the future holds.
People have been holding out making big decisions until we know the outcome of last week’s election, or until we know how Brexit will play out.
But if you know where the future’s going, you can map your way through life with confidence.
I’d hate people to think that the things we talk about here on a Sunday are not relevant. That the Bible is not relevant. That Jesus is not relevant.
Of course, that’s far from true. Jesus is very relevant. So the Bible is very relevant. So what we talk about, week by week, is very relevant.
But sometimes things can seem a bit abstract.
This autumn, we’ve been working our way through the letter of 2 Peter. Written by Simon Peter, former fisherman, one of the first disciples, as he’s growing older and knows he will die soon.
Our subject this morning is the second coming of Jesus.
Today’s reading is on a slightly awkward topic.
We Brits don’t really like confrontation. So a Bible reading where Simon Peter exposes false teachers within the church is slightly uncomfortable to listen to.
Maybe you’re thinking: Can’t we just focus on the good there is to do here in Kemsing? This all feels so negative!
On the first evening I was in Israel, some of us took a stroll from our hotel down to the Western Wall. One group of about 4 left the hotel late, and followed what they assumed to be the tail of our group. It turned out it wasn’t. But they only realised once they’d gone deep inside the maze of streets that is the old city of Jerusalem. They were utterly lost. All they knew was that they were outside a sweet shop, of which there are an uncanny number in old Jerusalem.
How do you find the Old Testament half of the Bible?
I went to Israel on my sabbatical, and one member of the group was especially thankful for the trip. He’d not been a Christian long, and he’d only ever read the New Testament. He’d never read anything of the Old Testament. Visiting ancient sites connected with characters like Abraham, David and Joshua helped him to start to piece together the storyline of the Old Testament.
He’d never read it. And maybe you haven’t. For many Christians, the Old Testament is long, complicated and they don’t really know where to begin.
Many people think the church is always after people’s money.
It’s a reputation we’ve got. And sometimes, it’s deserved.