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November 2019

March 18, 2020

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

Last Sunday I had the privilege of preaching on Paul’s second letter to Timothy. It contains much sound sense and includes this wonderful passage

And you also well know that God rescued me! Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there’s no getting around it. Unscrupulous con men will continue to exploit the faith. They’re as deceived as the people they lead astray. As long as they are out there, things can only get worse.

But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.

You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant. (2 Timothy 3 v 12 to 4 v5 The Message)

Every Christian needs to take this on board. Written two thousand years ago it describes perfectly the situation that the church was in then, and now. It is as relevant now as it was in 67AD when it was written, shortly before Paul’s death and when Timothy had been leader of the church at Ephesus for four years.

All we hear in large sections of the western church is decline and closure and it is talked about as an inevitability. It will be inevitable if the church continues to ignore the teachings of Christ, the letters in the New Testament and the teaching of God in the Old Testament. Why this generation feels that it is OK to dismiss or re-interpret large swathes of Christian teaching that have stood the test of time and served both the church and the world well is beyond belief. The church has largely adopted the hedonistic culture of today where ‘anything goes’ and the ‘cult of the individual’ is supreme, We are now seeing the cost of that, both in the church and in society as a whole. Everything is upside down and an intolerant form of liberalism has taken root in which it is deemed wrong to give to anti-LGBT causes but right to give to them. What has happened to free speech and the right to our own opinions.

Let’s come back to the Church. There are growing churches in this country. St Luke’s Gas Street, Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield Baptist, Cornerstone Nottingham, Kingsgate Peterborough, Beacon Church Stafford and SPAC London are just a few examples of growing churches. In 25 years the Redeemed Christian Church of God has grown from a handful of churches to over 800. As Peter Brierley said “The RCCG came to the UK in the context of ‘reverse mission’. They were concerned about the spiritual state of Britain. Britain had brought the gospel to them but had lost its way and needed to be re-evangelised. It’s now in about 70% of UK towns.”

Of course the vast majority of these churches are what we would call ‘Conservative Evangelical’ yet the way they operate defies our understanding of that phrase. They welcome anybody and everybody into their fellowship. Many of them have a tremendous ministry among, drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals and those on the margins of society but they promote a strong message of conversion and discipleship. They call people to repent, accept Jesus as their Saviour, let go of their former lifestyle and start living the way God intended. Remarkably it works. But of course God designed the whole of creation and he knows how it works best,

Ian Ring