As I write this latest letter for The Gazette, it seems that Easter is a distant memory, but in reality it was only a week ago. It was a wonderful weekend, where we were able to focus on the central events of the Christian message, but also to enjoy fellowship at a number of different levels. The ramble Friday afternoon gave many of us the chance to talk informally about major issues. Meirion reminded us that Friday evening’s service was a unique event in that it was the first combined Good Friday service between Emmanuel and Malpas Road churches. All who gathered, I am sure, enjoyed the ministry of the Word, the worship and the fellowship.
Since then we have all had the opportunity of getting to know the Hartiel family a little more as they have come over to strengthen links with Emmanuel. Thank you again to all who have welcomed them into your homes. Sunday’s services and fellowship lunch again spelt out the joy and privilege of being in the family of God.
On that Sunday morning I began a series that I have called ‘Gospel Promises’ where I want to take specific verses of Scripture and show why they have become so popular in so many contexts. In that service we looked at 1 John 1:9 ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’
It is good to know that people were listening well, because a number of folk have since asked me to clarify a particular point that I made.
At some point in the message I stated that no sin committed is ever neglected or forgotten. As human beings we are inclined to say “Enough water has passed under the bridge we can forget that now.” God however never does that.
What concerned people was, that they thought this might rob people of the assurance of their salvation. That was not my intention and is certainly not the message of Scripture.
The question has however given room for further thought and study of Scripture. Scripture clearly states, “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Rom 14:12). That judgement will include every word (Mt.12:36) and every action (Mt. 16:27). In the same way we must remember that God is able to test our thoughts. The Psalmist wrote,
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts! (Ps 139:23).
That judgement is terrifying if we have to face it alone. There would be no hope for anyone, but that was the main thrust of the message. The genuine Christian knows that each one of us has fallen short of the glory of God, there is none righteous no not one, so we have no hope of facing that judge on our own merit. Every true believer, is confident that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 Jn 2:1). He has already stood before the bar on our behalf and taken the punishment for every sinful thought, word and act of which we know that we are guilty. The Christian does not need to fear that he/she will have to answer for every personal sin, but that does not mean that those sins have been forgotten or ignored. No sin is ever passed over. On the contrary Christ suffered the full wrath of God for every sin of every one of his people.
None of us can ever hope to name each of our sins before God, because our hearts deceive us. We so often think that we are better than, but Christ has taken responsibility even for the sins that we don’t recognise.
May each of us have the confidence of knowing that “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 Jn 1:7) and the peace that comes from that.
Your Fellow Believer,
Bernard Lewis May 2012