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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:Christ Is The Way!
Text:BC 26 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2008-06-29
Added:2009-05-28
 

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.


BELGIC CONFESSION OF FAITH XXVI

(Reading: Hebrews 2:5-3:6)

 

Christ Is The Way!

 

 

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ...

 

     I’m sure we have all heard of Mahatma Gandhi.

          He would be the most famous Indian of the 20th century.

              Even those who criticised his politics felt themselves magnetised by his personality.

     He was the real deal.

          He was someone who honestly tried to practice what he preached.

              A deeply religious man, he spent his extraordinary life struggling for goodness.

 

     In his autobiography he describes his failure.

          He wrote, “It is a constant torture to me that I am still so far from him whom I know to be my life and being.

              “I know that it is my own wretchedness that keeps me from me.”

 

     Here was a man strongly attracted to Jesus Christ.

          Time and again he referred to the uniqueness of His person and ministry.

              Yet Gandhi couldn’t come to believe in Jesus as the only way of salvation.

     So he could never have any peace.

          Right until the end of his life he couldn’t answer the problem of his own sinfulness.

              Thinking that it must be something which he still had to gain to get right with God he missed the right road altogether!

                   He didn’t come to see that it’s God Himself who’s opened the way to Himself in Christ alone.

 

     The Bible is clear about this.

          It tells us that without true faith in Jesus He is not in us by His Spirit.

              And if He is not in us we are not in God.

     No matter what prayers or sighs or tears we may lift up.

          There is only true communion with God if it has come from Him first of all.

              And then when we are in Him, it’s He who produces fruit within us.

                   This is what the Lord in John 15 verse 4 declares.

 

     It is prayer which opens us up to receiving this.

          Prayer which comes to God in Jesus’ Name.

              Because Jesus is the only acceptable way to God.

                   In the words of the first aspect, JESUS CHRIST IS THE PERFECT PRIEST.

 

     In Article XXV we saw the abolishing of the ceremonial law.

          That described how all the ceremonies and symbols of the Old Testament have ceased at the coming of Christ.

              In Christ it is all fulfilled.

     As also we see now in Article XXVI with the role of the priesthood.

          For while Article XXI had reference to Christ’s priestly sacrifice, here we see the scriptural teaching of His priestly work.

              So this Article is our confession in regards to Christ’s priestly intercession.

    

     What we have here is what we read of in Hebrews chapter 2 the verses 17 and 18.

          There we read of Christ, “he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

              “Because he himself suffered when he was being tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

 

     We see here both the sacrifice and the work of Christ.

          Because it is through Jesus Christ alone that there is access to God.

              He is the only Mediator between God and man.

                   As the apostle says in Romans 5 verses 1 and 2, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

 

     As well as being holy God Christ is righteous man.

          So He stands in the divine presence in our behalf.

 

     You see, after their sacrifices were made the priests of the Old Testament went into the Holy of Holies to intercede for the people with God.

          After His sacrifice was complete Jesus went into the “inner sanctuary behind the curtain.”

              He did that to be forever interceding for us with the Heavenly Father.

     So Christ is there, in the words of Hebrews 7:22, as “the guarantee of a better covenant” than that given by Moses.

          He is there as one who sympathizes with our weaknesses and who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin.

              No wonder that Hebrews 4 verse 16 sums this up logically and comfortingly, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

 

     Congregation, JESUS CHRIST IS THE PERFECT PRIEST.

          Yet in the past the holiness of the Lord has often been separated from his love.

              What we’ve just heard about Jesus being the completely approachable One because of His identification with us, wasn’t taught.

                   And when all you hear about is your complete sinfulness over against God’s justice, God seems inaccessible and Christ appears far away.

 

     This is one of the reasons historically why saints began to be prayed to and worshipped.

          The Middle Ages is well known for a huge proliferation of saints and the degree to which they were extolled.

              Every country and many cities and other places had their special saints.

 

     Here are just a few examples of these: The city of Rome was protected by Peter, Paul and St. Lawrence.

          England had St. George who killed the dragon.

              Ireland enjoyed the patronage of St Patrick and Sr Bridget.

     Paris had St. Genevieve.

          And Cologne was protected by the three magi who worshipped the baby Jesus.

 

     Then there were the saints for special needs.

          If you had toothache you pleaded with St. Apollonia for relief, for she had all her teeth extracted rather than deny Christ.

              St. Florian guarded against fire, St. Nicholas in time of shipwreck, St. Crispin all shoe cobblers, and St. Anthony those who drove mules.

                   St. Ulrich heard the prayers of those whose places were infested with rats, and St. Christopher was cried to when death was close.

         

     The stories about saints would be ridiculous if they weren’t tragic reminders of gross superstition and paganism within the church of God.

          Because the Bible had always been clear all along.

              In the words of our second aspect to Article XXVI, Scripture declared THE SAINTS ARE ALL UNWORTHY.

             

     Article XXVI actually shows how the worship of saints is the last thing that honours them.

          It says that “it was only through distrust that this practice of dishonouring, instead of honouring, the saints was introduced, doing that which they never have done or required, but have on the contrary steadfastly rejected according to their bounden duty, as appears by their writings.”

 

     The Reformation condemned the invocation of saints.

          They spoke out against it in the most condemning way.

              So, naturally, it caused controversy.

     Now, the Roman Catholic Council of Trent in the mid 16th century attempted to correct some of the abuses.

          But at the same time it continue to approve and command the practice.

              Indeed, they condemned anyone teaching otherwise.

     Men like de Bres, the author of this Confession, called saint worship idolatry.

          They charged that it detracted from the honour due to Christ, or that it was against Scripture.

              And those men were severely judged – even to being killed for this.

 

     At this point some may say that Rome has changed lately.

          But you must remember that Rome is the church which prides itself on never retracting or revisiting any officially adopted positions.

              Right up until today the whole structure of calling upon the saints stays the same.

 

     Mind you, it won’t stop Rome from saying that the Reformers misunderstood their doctrine.

          They say the Protestants didn’t properly realise the difference between a mediation of reconciliation and a mediation of intercession.

              Christ alone offered the first, but the second is also offered by the saints.

 

     However, Rome doesn’t acknowledge mediation based only on Christ’s sacrifice.

          Remember, they will gladly say, “By Christ,” and “By faith,” and “By grace,” and “By Scripture,” but they will never ever add that word “alone” after them!

 

     They also split hairs over the difference between what’s worship and what’s veneration.

          So they’ll say that veneration is what we offer up to the created order but worship is what you have to give to the uncreated order.

              And then they break up veneration further by saying that the extent to which you venerate someone depends on the amount of supernatural qualities they had and how many good works they did.

 

     None of this is in God’s Word though!

          In fact, it’s in the example of Mary that we see what a farce this so-called variation really is!

             

     You see, they declare that Mary, mother of our Lord, is in a class all of her own on the veneration scale.

          Well, you work out from these quotes and examples where she actually is in Rome’s system.

 

     It was one of their authorities, De Liguori, who gave the admonition, “Pray always to Mother Mary.

          “Let her sweet name be always on your lips.”

              And how many in that church don’t indeed do that!

                   The late John Paul II is a prime example of those who was always praying through Mary.

    

     Congregation, they believe she is the Queen of Heaven, and of the whole world.

          And because she is this Queen, she has special access to God and a heart full of compassion and mercy for sinners.

              They have even recently called her Co-redemptress and Co-medatrix with Christ.

     She is the hope and advocate of the departed in purgatory and of sinners on earth.

          She is mighty to save and is the object of devotion of millions.

 

     So, just another believer?

          Surely she couldn’t be the one our Lord spoke of in Matthew 12 verse 48 in such a completely different way?

              For when someone there told Him His mother and brothers were outside, wanting to talk to Him, He said to him, “‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?

     “Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers.

          “‘For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’”

 

     That’s what centuries of human tradition does to the Church of God.

          For as much as it had laid the most harsh burden on the Church just before Jesus came to earth, so it had placed the most crippling handicap on the Church just before the Reformers were raised up to liberate her.

 

     The message of the Reformers was the same as that declared by their Lord fifteen hundred years earlier.

          In the words of the third aspect to Article XXVI, they proclaimed that THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE WAY.

             

     Here we come to the third paragraph and what follows in the Article.

          For there the Confession rightly quotes extensively from the letter to the Hebrews.

              This letter, above all others, deals not only with the sacrificial aspect of Christ’s High Priesthood, but also His continued exclusive intercession.

 

     It confirms THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE WAY.

          And it confirm it because it is what the Lord Himself said in John 14 verse 6.

              There Jesus declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life.

                   “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

     And there are plenty of other occasions Christ states the same.

          Take John 10 verse 9 as but one example.

              For there He says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”

 

     Now, when Jesus says these things, does He means, “Whoever believes in me can then use other men to continue communion with my Father?”

          Nothing of the sort!

              It is Christ alone right the way through!

                   Nothing else and nobody else!

 

     Surely you know that in your own experience of Him!

          Don’t we always end our prayers in Jesus’ Name?

              And isn’t that because He always live to intercede for us at the right hand of His Father?

                   That’s what Hebrews 7 verse 25 declares.

 

     And what about those who do pray to God through other men and women?

          Is that a real help for them?

 

     Well, actually, they’d honestly have to tell you they’re not sure.

          Because they don’t know if they’ve done it quite enough.

              Depending on the merits of others apart from Christ means you have to build up enough merit too!

     Then how do you know you’ve got through?

          But praying in Jesus’ Name is the only direct line because it’s His dedicated line!

         

     And from this we may understand two further encouragements that bring us closer to God.

          The first of these comes out of the supreme worthiness of our Saviour.

              Both His love and His power guarantee help in time of need.

     He’s the One who knows us better than any saint.

          In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves!

 

     The second is that we must always remember what He has done.

          Nothing more can be added to that.

              Where we stand with God in Christ is settled for all eternity.

                   For it’s not a matter of what we don’t have but what He has given us in His Son.

 

     That’s why we pray.

          Because in prayer we are completely humble.

              There especially we are completely unworthy.

     So that we have an intercessor in heaven makes all the difference.

          Because He’s there we know we have to serve Him down here.

              And that can only be His way!

                   Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray…

     Dear Lord and Saviour,

          We praise You that we may pray to You at any time.

              We have no conditions to fulfil.

                   We don’t have to wonder if the one we’re praying through is the right one for that prayer or has done enough to cover our prayer.

     Instead, we may go to You at any time at all because You have done it all!

          You paid the price for all our sin – past, present and future.

              So please encourage us by Your Spirit to pray to You all the more.

     Because then our lives will more and more become Your way!

          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 2008, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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