One of my heroes is the Member of Parliament for Hull, in the year 1780, William Wilberforce. He went on to be elected Member of Parliament for Yorkshire in 1784, always an independent MP. The following year, he became a Christian, and wondered whether he should leave politics. He carried on, but his new found faith gave him a sharp social conscience. He sought to use his position in Parliament to campaign for issues he felt strongly about, and one of those was the trade in slaves from Africa to work in the West Indies.
From time to time I put sermons I give up here. Not because I think they are particularly good, even less that they are model sermons. I can't even guarantee that I agree with everything I said then - I am (of course) learning all the time. But someone may be interested.
You can use the filters below to restrict which sermons you see. Sermons will be sorted newest first, which means that they appear in reverse order from that in which they were delivered.
Divisions and arguments are always ugly. They don’t belong in families or in business, but they are especially unseemly in Christian churches. We’re supposed to be the first glimpse of a new humanity, united under Jesus’ gracious rule. We’re supposed to be doing good to others, not squabbling amongst ourselves.
And yet it’s all too common. Churches that are focussed in on themselves, arguing away, tragically divided, doing little good to anyone else.
Here are some of the headlines from the past week: UK unemployment total up by 15,000. A German court convicts a 94-year old former guard at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz of being an accessory to the murder of at least 300,000 Jews. Fears of new arms race after Iran nuclear deal. Many NHS hospital patients complain of lack of dignity.
God’s grace is a wonderful thing. It runs all the way through the Bible, from beginning to end. God’s blessing, his kindness, his goodness, his forgiveness are not things we could ever earn. We don’t have to, because God delights to give us these things free of charge. We don’t even get to chip in and pay for the drinks. God’s kindness is free. All we have to do is say yes, and receive it.
Who do you think you are?
We all need to know our identity. Where have we come from? What are the decisive events in our past that define our story? Where are we going? What are our ambitions for the future?
We all have a story. Where we’ve come from. Where we’re going. What we hope for.
And Christians are part of a very particular story. What does it mean to be a Christian? What is our identity?
Titus chapter 2 will answer that for us. We’re going to look to the past first, then to the future, and then see who are in the present day.
You hear people say from time to time that the problem with the church is that it’s full of hypocrites.
It’s quite true, of course. None of us lives completely consistently with what we believe.
Which is what makes the jibe so painful. We want our friends to follow Jesus. There’s nothing wrong with him. We don’t want them to be put off because his church is full of less than perfect specimens. So it hurts when we are part of the problem.
And it’s tempting to make one of two false moves.
One of the buzzwords of modern society is tolerance. Whatever else we believe or do, we must tolerate other people. We mustn’t be intolerant.
In passing, I’d point out that ironically Britain is becoming more intolerant. There’s nothing more intolerant than a society that has tolerance as its mantra. But that’s an aside. This morning I want to think about the church.
Because this has all affected the church. The church in this country aims to be tolerant.
One of the most wonderful privileges of being a Christian is that God uses us to do his work.
If you were here last week, we looked at the opening few verses of Paul’s letter to Titus. There we saw that God is regularly called “God our Saviour” in this little letter. God is a rescuing God. His favourite work is rescuing people out of hell, for heaven, for all eternity.
Today we start a series of sermons looking together at the letter of Titus. It’s a short letter, written by Paul. Most of Paul’s letters were to churches. Titus was written to an individual, Titus. Although, as we’ll see, he very much expected the church to be eavesdropping.
I think it’s going to be really exciting to look at Titus. But it’s just possible that not everyone shares my excitement. So I thought we’d think today about why this is such a good way to spend the next few Sundays.
It might seem an odd to look at a letter written by Paul.
How do they keep going?
Christian parents in Iraq told that their children will be executed if they don’t renounce their faith. How do they keep living for Christ at that moment?
The lady in this area, who becomes a Christian. Goes home, and tells her husband. He didn’t mind her going to church, but he doesn’t want her taking it this seriously, he says. How does she keep going?