The Rectory Bulletin
Westminster Confession of Faith

The Most Absolute God

Fri 30th Apr 2021

I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me (Isaiah 45:5) - “Besides me there is no God”. In a world which is skeptical about absolute truth, here is one absolute which we cannot avoid. We may not be aware of the existence of God, or reject his existence outright, but neither of these things affect the fact that he does exist. Absolute truths might be rejected, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It just means you don’t like them.

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Westminster Confession of Faith

Entirely Free

Thu 29th Apr 2021

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. (Psalm 115:3) - The LORD of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,” (Isaiah 14:24) - Unlike us, God’s freedom is not limited in any way. He is not subject to anyone else’s rules and regulations, not does he change or age. He is all-knowing and all-powerful, and so his will cannot be defeated by another. He is entirely free, whereas our freedom is limited.

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Westminster Confession of Faith

Holy, Holy, Holy

Wed 28th Apr 2021

And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3) - And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8) - One of the great themes of the Bible is: God is holy, and we are not. When Moses approaches the burning bush, he has to remove his shoes since he is on holy ground. He is to come no closer. When the law is given on the mountaintop, the Israelites are warned not even to touch the mountain.

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Westminster Confession of Faith

God Most Wise

Tue 27th Apr 2021

to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:27) - To understand that God is wise, means that he is timeless and trustworthy in all that he says. A wisdom which takes a wider view, and transcends modern fads, fashions and trends.

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Westminster Confession of Faith

The Almighty God

Mon 26th Apr 2021

When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless,” (Genesis 17:1) - And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8) - All creation is of his making, and he has power over it all. God cannot be resisted or overcome. He is All-Mighty.

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Sundays

The Good Shepherd

Sun 25th Apr 2021

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11–18) - Oh sheep, as you wander Jesus seeks you out! Can you hear his voice, calling you home in accent clear and urgent? As you stray, look up and see the shepherd coming to you. Here is one who alone can safely lead you though death, and bring you to the heavenly fold. Listen to no other voices, and follow no other paths. There is but one good shepherd. And he seeks you out.

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Westminster Confession of Faith

Is God Incomprehensible?

Sat 24th Apr 2021

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3) - To try and reinvent God, perhaps through attempting to make him more palatable to the present age, is simply to invent an idol. No, we need to allow God to be God, and to trust that all that we need to know about him he has revealed to us.

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Westminster Confession of Faith

The Eternal God

Fri 23rd Apr 2021

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:2) - “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17) - We needn’t look back to the events recorded in Scripture and think that they deal with a different God from whom we are separated by millennia. God is as present to us as he was to them. He is much “I AM” now as he was then. For God, forever is simply now.

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Westminster Confession of Faith

The God who is Immense

Thu 22nd Apr 2021

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! (1 Kings 8:27) - God’s immensity doesn’t mean that he is simply a very big being, bigger than anything else. It means that he is present everywhere. There is nowhere where he is not: as the old prayer has it, he is “everywhere present and fillest all things”. He is omnipresent

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Westminster Confession of Faith

Does God Change?

Wed 21st Apr 2021

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17) - “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6) - As we age, the aches begin to dog our joints and names seem to evaporate from the tip of the tongue. Things which our twenty-year old selves thought were dull and boring, become familiar and comforting. Joy turns to sorrow, anger flares up and then ebbs into regret. Compassion pricks our conscience, and sympathy brings tears. God’s love for us does not wane or change, and it is already pure and total. God’s goodness is entire and eternal. He is a firm foundation for our faith. He is utterly reliable, and a safe haven for all our hope.

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Westminster Confession of Faith

A Bodiless God

Tue 20th Apr 2021

“Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth.” (Deuteronomy 4:15–18) - The Israelites were warned not to imagine God as having any form, as being like anything which he has created. What nonsense it is to imagine God as being simply a larger version of something he has created. That would be like imagining Mary Berry is in fact a large Victoria Sponge!

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Westminster Confession of Faith

A Most Pure Spirit

Mon 19th Apr 2021

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth”. (John 4:24) - “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17) - God is spirit, and yet we are material. God is infinite, and we are not. God is spirit. He is not simply a bigger and better version of human beings. He is other. He is spirit.

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Sundays

The World Changed

Sun 18th Apr 2021

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:45–48) - Here then is the resurrection. A physical resurrection, long foretold in the Scriptures. An event which enables those selfsame Scriptures to be truly understood. An event which then puts Jesus - his name - at the core of the unfolding revelation of God, and which sends out the disciples to bear witness to these events. Every church, every Christian that you see today is but an after-echo of that event. The world was changed that day. Will you be changed too?

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Westminster Confession of Faith

Infinite in Being and Perfection

Sat 17th Apr 2021

Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? It is higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea. (Job 11:7–9) - The idea of the infinity of God is rich. It demonstrates his perfection, as he is not limited by anything. There is no lack in his holiness, or possibility that it can be greater. An infinite God is always at hand, and always present to us.

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Westminster Confession of Faith

Living and True

Fri 16th Apr 2021

“But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King.” (Jeremiah 10:10) - “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9–10) - God is truth, and since he created the heavens and the earth he alone has the power and authority to define what truth actually is. He is the measure by which we discern what is, and what is not, true.

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Westminster Confession of Faith

The One and Only God

Thu 15th Apr 2021

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” (Deuteronomy 6:4–6) - In the ancient world, there was an assumption that each group of people had their own god. Against this background Judaism stood alone, with its insistence that there is in fact only one God.

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Westminster Confession of Faith

The Westminster Assembly

Wed 14th Apr 2021

“Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.” (Joel 1:14) - On 15th October 1642 Parliament passed a bill which called for a gathering of “divines” in London to revise the Thirty-Nine Articles, which stand as the statement of faith for the Church of England. These divines were to be people who were learned in the faith, and among their number were theologians, bishops and ministers of other denominations.

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Understanding and Knowing God

Tue 13th Apr 2021

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23–24. - The key is to seek God humbly. To allow him to speak on his own terms. That is something worth more than human riches, strength or wisdom. That is something eternal.

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Understanding and Knowing God

Tue 13th Apr 2021

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23–24. - The key is to seek God humbly. To allow him to speak on his own terms. That is something worth more than human riches, strength or wisdom. That is something eternal.

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“I know whom I have believed”

Mon 12th Apr 2021

“But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” (2 Timothy 1:12) - Over the years I have from time to time leant over the pulpit and urged you to go home and pick up your Bible. And then read it. Once more I urge you: pick up and read! To read the Bible is to come face to face with God. And then draw strength from what you discover. It is to be able to say that you know God, and not simply know about God. That is why I urge you to look to your Bibles.

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Sundays

Chrysostom: “Let no one grieve”

Sun 11th Apr 2021

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen! (Chrysostom) - The use of this ancient sermon serves to remind us that at the core of the faith are timeless truths, which are reverently handed down from generation to generation, so sermons from the fourth century still ring out in the twenty-first century.

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Resurrection

Spurgeon: The Apostle’s Ardour

Sat 10th Apr 2021

What, then, was the great object of the apostle’s ardour? It was “that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection.” (C.H. Spurgeon) - Ah, Charles Haddon Spurgeon! Man of Essex, “Prince of Preachers” and defender of the faith. Such was his prowess, and the depth of his theology, that aged only 19 he was called to be minister of the then famous New Park Street Chapel. Within years congregations could no longer fit in, so the much larger Metropolitan Tabernacle was built which would be filled with six thousand people on both a Sunday morning and evening.

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Resurrection

The Venerable Bede: The Gradual Revelation

Fri 09th Apr 2021

Our Lord and redeemer revealed the glory of his resurrection to his disciples gradually and over a period of time, undoubtedly because so great was the virtue of the miracle that the weak hearts of mortals could not grasp the significance of this all at once. (Exposition on the Gospel of Mark 2.9) - Amongst all the scholars of Anglo-Saxon England, none come close to the influence which was born by the Venerable Bede. This monk of Jarrow had the great - and rare - benefit of a peaceful life and was able to not only write commentaries on the Bible but also compile a great history of the nation.

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Resurrection

Martin Luther: The Two Commands

Thu 08th Apr 2021

For the angels come with two commands: the first is to the women, that they should not be frightened by their appearance, but they should rejoice that Christ is risen; the other command is that they should not keep the resurrection a secret, but they should quickly go forth and announce it to the disciples. (Martin Luther) - Martin Luther is a name familiar to most, and his writings and preaching were the fuel which powered the great engines of the Reformation. His translation of the Bible into German put the Word of God into the hands of the people, and his hymns put words of praise into their mouths.

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Resurrection

John Boys: “Evening Repenters”

Wed 07th Apr 2021

Mary and the other women sought Christ on the first day of the week, and in the first hour of the day, but many put off seeking the Lord until the last week of their life, the last day of the week, the last hour of the day, the last minute of the hour. (John Boys) - John Boys ministered at a time when our nation was in great need of preaching, something which caused concern to the then Archbishop. Boys proved a popular author, and in 1619 was made Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, a post he held until 1625 when he was found dead amongst his books.

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Resurrection

Hesychius of Jerusalem: “We are Saved and Christ is Adored”

Tue 06th Apr 2021

"On this day, when he had trampled death under foot, made the tyrant a prisoner and despoiled the underworld, Christ ascended into heaven as a king in victory, as a ruler in glory, as an invincible charioteer. " (Easter Homily 5–6.5) - Born in the late fourth century, Hesychius was a priest in Jerusalem at about AD412, wrote many works on various books of the Old and New Testaments, and was held in high esteem.

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Resurrection

Chrysostom: “These Hidden Realities”

Mon 05th Apr 2021

"How can I recount for you these hidden realities or proclaim what goes beyond any word or concept? How can I lay open before you the mystery of the Lord’s resurrection, the saving sign of his cross and of his three days’ death? For each and every event that happened to our Saviour is an outward sign of the mystery of our redemption." (Homily on Holy Saturday 10.3) - John Chrysostom stands as one of the greats of the ancient church, and as a preacher he is in the first rank of all who have dared to climb the pulpit steps.

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Easter

He is Going Before You

Sun 04th Apr 2021

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” (Mark 16:6-7) - Here is the great challenge of Easter, the great fact which rings down the ages. Christ is alive, and calls us to relate to him as the living God. Through his death he gave us the way to have our sins forgiven, and though his resurrection he calls us to a living relationship. Will you follow that same path? Place your trust in him, have him earn forgiveness of your sins and then follow him as your living saviour? He has gone ahead - so go and join him!

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Easter

No Way to Prove

Sat 03rd Apr 2021

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) - The final of the ten objections to the resurrection we have been considering over the past couple of weeks is a simple one. It’s the assertion that there’s simply no way to prove all this, and that miracles simply don’t happen. Miracles are not possible which, of course, is what makes them miracles in the first place! It is the very fact that they jar against the natural order which attracts attention, and then points that attention beyond natural causes.

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Easter

Biased Sources

Fri 02nd Apr 2021

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30–31) - As with some of the other theories, the objection that we should not believe in the resurrection as the authors of the New Testament were biased fails to deal adequately with the fact that they were willing to die for this ‘bias’. It doesn’t account for the empty tomb. No, this ‘bias’ is no reason not to listen. We are all, in the end, biased.

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Easter

Work of Fiction

Thu 01st Apr 2021

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back (Mark 16:1-4) - The early spread of Christianity amongst those who witnessed the events, and were willing to be martyred for their faith, undermines the fiction theory.

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