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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:Keeping It Up!
Text:CD 5 V:7-15 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2001-10-07
Added:2008-04-25
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


P - PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS (II)

Keeping It Up!

 

Sermon by Rev S Bajema

on Canons of Dort V:7-15

 

Scripture reading:

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

 

 

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ...

 

This is the second part to our looking at the Fifth Head of Doctrine in the Canons of Dordt. And last time we looked at the articles 1 till 6. There we heard about the gracious gospel message that God doesn’t let us go.

Once saved, we’re always saved. And once saved we are going to keep on being saved. Remember that imagery of the 2nd World War: D-Day has already happened - V-Day is on its way!

And now, in this Confession of Faith, the Church fathers turn to teaching us from Scripture how this perseverance works. But also it helps us to learn how we can know it is working. And then, we’ll find out how we show it is working in us!

 

Article 7

Article 7 begins with teaching us how it is that the Lord keeps us through troubled times. You see, despite how terrible we may become, if you are one of the elect you have that seed planted within.

Perhaps that seed isn’t sprouting. Looking on the surface it just doesn’t seem to exist. In fact, it’s being that long since you have been spiritually reborn, or have felt the new life, you wonder if it was ever there!

But it’s alive, all right. There under the surface something is growing. One day it will burst through! With the watering and feeding through God’s Word and Spirit, there can only be one result.

Dear friend, you may have difficulty with God’s timetable. Sometimes you might become very anxious (dare I suggest paranoid?)because nothing seems to be happening. But if it took so many years for you to grow physically into what you are now, should we expect anything different spiritually?

Psalm 90 verse 4 says a thousand years are like a day to Him. And they are words written by a 93-year-old man who had to wait till the last part of his life to be used by the Lord! For they are words from Moses.

Dear friend, if you are at one of those desperate times - look up! Don’t worry about what you can’t see. And don’t worry about what you think you see in others, either. They’ll be having the same struggles in their lives, too - if they are the Lord’s!

Look up! Put your life in His spotlight! Then He’ll penetrate your life. In the words of this article, He’ll certainly and effectually renew you to repentance.

You will be sorry for your sins. And you will have forgiveness for those sins through the blood of the Mediator - Jesus Christ. Then you’ll know - you’ve just got to grow!

 

Article 8

If it depended on us, we would have failed a long time ago. And we would have failed most miserably!

But it always depended on God. So Article 8 declares, “His counsel cannot be changed nor His promise fail; neither can the call according to His purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession, and preservation of Christ be rendered ineffectual, nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit be frustrated or obliterated.”

How can I be sure it’s really like this? Look and see - the whole of the Triune Godhead is involved in the most wondrous unity, to draw us in for His joy. Right throughout our most difficult times - those childhood rejections, teenage insecurities, and adult frustrations - we were being supremely loved!

Do you want to know what real love is? ‘Ah,’ we sigh, ‘real love is for life.’ Exactly right! Real love is that which we have in the never-ending-life that we’ll enjoy with our loving God!

 

Article 9

And you know - you can know! We become assured that this is so wonderfully true according to how strong our faith is. This is what Article 8 tells us.

And if this Article seems like it’s saying that there can be a difference between believers, then you’ve got it right! We are held accountable for all we do. And we’ll be rewarded as to how we have used out talents.

There is a harsher judgment for the ministers of the Gospel, for they have a special responsibility in the Church of Christ. 1st Timothy 3, verse 13, speaks of how this blesses the preacher positively: “Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Jesus Christ.”

Negatively, though, there are those words for me in Hebrews 13, verse 17: “They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.” The elder worthy of double honour, in the words of 1 Timothy 5:17, is also under an extra obligation.

And what’s true of those lead the Church of Christ has it’s parallel amongst all believers. There’s no class apart.

Dear believer - do you want assurance? Try harder! Commit yourself to the Lord in faith.

 

Article 10

What a contrast with the reassurance that this world has! They depend on each other for their encouragement and praise. They depend on what doesn’t last.

How much have people let us down in the past? Is it any surprise that the further people become away from each other in this selfish age, that the greater unhappiness we see?

This Christian assurance is based completely upon faith in the promises of God. That’s what Article 10 declares. It springs from faith in God’s promises in His Word, and His living in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

It’s this faith which drives us on. We want to keep a clean conscience and do the right thing. Otherwise we would be the most miserable of all men!

 

Article 11

Congregation, this confession - the Canons of Dort - is true to life. All the way it’s a struggle.

There are doubts we have about this assurance. That’s what Article 11’s about. Because God’s holding on! In the words of 1 Corinthians 10, verse 13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.”

Our Lord was spot on when He said, in Matthew 7:14, “small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Because this is not a road that gets any easier once you’re through the gate! It’s a terrible route!

In fact, we can’t pick it out as a path at all. But the same Saviour who can thread a camel through the eye of a needle, will bring us into His glorious reward. He does it!

 

Article 12

You know - that humbles us. God’s way of getting us up is by bringing us down! When we are struck by His immense grace, we have nothing left to say. Then we’re truly His children, awe-struck at what this Father can do! In the words of Article 12, “the consideration of this benefit should serve as an incentive to the serious and constant practice of gratitude and good works, as appears from the testimonies of Scripture and the examples of the saints.”

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “You are what you eat”? It’s a saying which shows that the way we look after our body physically, is what determines what we’ll get out of our body later on in life. Abuse your body, and you’ll suffer for it.

It’s the same spiritually. If we live lives of thankfulness, starting fresh each day with our Lord, and living by His forgiving grace, we’re being brought that much closer to how we’ll be eternally. It may not yet be heaven on earth, but it is a definite sign of how things will be.

As a church we’re pointed to this confirming work of God in the Lord’s Supper. If we go to His table in faith, trusting the Lord for His saving work in Jesus Christ, we’ve been blessed. And we have to believe we are blessed!

 

Article 13

Friend, think of the word “freedom”. You could ask a hundred different people across this earth what they think that word means, and you could get a hundred different answers.

But you will notice one thing with the answers from non-Christians. And that is that freedom is being free from something.

In our own culture, freedom is a buzz word from the 1960’s. Then freedom was definitely being free from something – such as your hang-ups, your traditions, your imperialistic or economic masters.

For the believer, though, his new-found freedom in Jesus Christ, His Saviour and Lord, is not a freedom from, it’s a freedom for.

Think about that. Ours is a freedom for. It’s not a matter of what we get away from, but who we’re meant to be doing it for. Actually, it’s a growing realisation of how you’re not free at all - except to be free to serve. In the words of Article 13, on Christian assurance: “it renders them much more careful and solicitous to continue in the ways of the Lord, which He has ordained.”

It’s all a part of God’s process of transformation. The apostle Paul writes about this in Philippians 3 verse 21: “by the power that enables Christ to bring everything under his control [He] will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”

 

Article 14

And, as always, right next to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, is the Word! Article 14 points us right back to it. We can’t get away from it, much as many may have tried to separate the Word from the Spirit.

Here is one example of how people have tried to get away from the Bible in recent years. It occurred during the time of the so-called Toronto Blessing. And it was leading proponent of this movement, a man called Rodney Howard-Browne, who claimed that this movement was so full of the Holy Spirit that he didn’t need the Bible any more. In fact, he said, he didn’t even need to use words to convert people. The look he gave from his eyes would be enough to be saved!

Such a movement only shows how far away believers can be led away from the Lord. That’s what happens when the Bible isn’t used any more in churches. Because that’s not the Spirit of God - that’s the spirit of this world!

We have to be a people of the Book. You have to read it - every day! You have to set aside time for it, and try to keep to that time.

But don’t get hung up about it if you honestly can’t do it sometimes. The key is that you have to try - and keep on trying. Don’t give up! The Lord’s looking at your heart!

 

Article 15

Remember, dear friend, it is faith that saves us. And because faith is the great unseen, which is only known by believers, those who don’t know it don’t want a bar of it!

But that’s what is in the precious Gospel message the Church has always loved. That is - the real Church, the true Church!

We are weak. Yet we are enabled, in the words of Article 15, to love this teaching tenderly and defend it steadfastly as a priceless treasure.

What a promise to end with - the unlimited guarantee! For we hear that the Church, “the bride of Christ,” has always most tenderly loved and constantly defended [this precious doctrine] as an inestimable treasure; and God, against whom neither counsel nor strength can prevail, will dispose her so to continue to the end of time. God does it!

We’re keeping it up, congregation! Because He’s making us look up.

The last sentence here has us looking up there: “Now to this one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be honour and glory forever.” And what can His people say to that except, “Amen!” Amen.

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray...

Dear Lord, thank You for the reassurance of Your Word. Thank You that we can go into this new week in Your strength, and with Your guidance.

And we do pray for whatever may confront us this week. Keep us close to You, and draw us even closer to You by Your Word and Spirit. Yes, Lord, that more and more in our thoughts and words and actions, we will follow the example of Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.rcnz.org.nz

(c) Copyright 2001, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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