Die sin must or God

Christmas isn’t usually the time to talk about evil, or of Satan’s ultimate destruction, but that is precisely what Christmas, the coming of God in Christ, means.  Evil encompases all the chaos and dysfunction in the world, all the rebellion against God; and God’s salvation means an end to all that, and the return to a new heavenly order of holiness.

The coming of Jesus is God meeting His own requirements for not only sin’s penalty, but the whole moral order of the universe.  It is, in the end, God working to satisfy His own holy Name; and Jesus is the only One who can do that.

P. T. Forsyth wrote in Work of Christ that “An unsatisfied God, a dissatisfied God, would be no God.  He would but reflect the distraction of the world, and so succumb to it.”  Yet holiness must be satisfied, and nothing created can possibly do that.  Similarly, neither can God’s holiness be satisfied whilst any vestiges of unholiness, namely evil (i.e. hell), remain.  The destruction of evil is the fulfilment of God’s unsurpassing reign and joy of His holiness in all the New Creation for all people, everywhere. Isn’t that what 1 Corinthians 15:28 means?  That God will be all in all?  Thus if evil exists, what else does “all in all” mean?

Evil has no future because God is holy.

That means, as we remember the incarnation of the Son of God into the world, we remember and partake of God’s renewing of the whole cosmos to put an end to evil, but not to put an end to rebels, such as we, the human race, are.

Forsyth wrote in a brilliant sermon entitled The Bible Doctrine of Hell and the Unseen,

“If evil is to be permanent in any part of the universe, then God is there foiled and the Cross of Christ of none effect . . . . .So long as evil lasts there will be Hell.  If evil should cease Hell would be burned out.  Now if Christ’s Cross means anything it means the destruction of evil everywhere and forever.  The work of the Cross is not done while there is a single soul unwon to the mastery of Christ and uninfected by His Spirit. . . . If we believe in the Cross then we believe there will come a time when evil shall everywhere cease and sin no longer be.”

Evil has no future because Jesus has come, and remains by His Spirit.

Evil has no future because Jesus has satisfied God’s own holiness.

Evil has no future because God will be all in all.

“Die sin must or God.”  When Jesus was born, sin’s fate was sealed.  When Jesus died, sin was defeated forever.  When Jesus rose from the dead, sin was left behind in the tomb.  When He returns, sin will be erradicated forever.  The New Heaven and New Earth will know no sin.

That’s why we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas time.

DSC_0082A sunset in South Devon.

Note:  This post was spurred by my reading of the excellent chapter on P. T. Forsyth by Jason Goroncy in ‘All Shall Be Well’ entitled ‘The Final Sanity is Complete Sanctity.’ And also the brilliant collection of Forsyth sermons in Goroncy’s ‘Descending on Humanity and Intervening in History’, which has been mentioned on this blog before.

All shall be wellForsyth.DescendingonHumanity.90702

To Ministers & Preachers (pt3)

On October 20th 1909, P. T. Forsyth delivered an ordination address based on John 17:6,

“I manifested thy name unto the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me.“

The sermon is very short and broken down into three parts, The Property, The Gift, The Use.

We conclude with part three….

forsyth1

“I Have Manifested Thy Name to Them.”

What a charge – to be the living man on whom men depend for the living God!  The people say to you as Minister, what Philip said to Jesus, “Show us the Father” (John 14:8).

“I have manifested Thy name.”  That means nature, and nature means presence and action – not truths about God but God Himself in action.  It is not the Fatherhood of God you have to preach but God the Father.  You do not have to preach about God to people, you must preach God into people.  So true preaching is not telling people, but acting on people, making people.

No amount of telling will ever convince people of the Father; it has to be lived into them.  Therefore yours must be a personal ministry.  When the personal God revealed Himself, it was in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ; and when Christ is preached it is by men, by a soul.  You cannot reveal the Holy One by talking about holiness.  “That is true,” says someone, “You can only reveal the Holy One by being holy.”  But he knows little of himself who can say that.  If we cannot preach the Holy God except by being holy, who can preach him?

The holiness that fits you to preach about the Holy is not your personal sanctity and conduct, but your evident communion with the Holy Christ.  It is a life faith you want more than a life conduct.

Why!  Paul addressed such Churches as his by the name of Saints!  Churches in which the grossest sins were evident.  They were not saints by conduct but by faith.

Your goodness is not equal to your task as a minister but your faith must be.  You must realise that “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9).  So it is!  Not even your faith is sufficient, but only His grace, for you have to reveal Christ as Christ revealed, in this sense, that in both cases it is the soul that tells.  But there is this difference:  He revealed God to us by the resources of His own soul, while you cannot do it from the resources of your soul but only from His.  Nobody was for Him what He is for you with God.

The greatest thing you can give any man is your God and your Saviour.  The reason why some ministers are valuable for other things than preaching, even valuable in spite of their preaching, is that they preach about God, and about Christ; they do not preach Christ.  They are only messengers, not Sacraments.

A favourite type of preaching today is to analyse your soul; it is subjective, psychological preaching.  It is weak, it is exhausting, it is dangerous.  Analyse the Gospel in reference to the soul.  You are a minister of the Word, not of the soul.

And that Word will be selective.  There is real truth in the doctrine of election.  You will not appeal to all alike.  To try to do so is to make your Gospel colourless.  There will be some whom you will not touch.  On the other hand, there may be some given to you whom others have never touched.

If your Church were smaller, it might be more powerful.  If you could shed off people as Christ did, you might be stronger, like Gideon’s host.  Christ alone has the promise and reversion of all men, and He only at the last.  At first, all forsook him and fled.

You have but a corner of the vineyard, and cannot appeal to all men.  Humility then is better equipment than ambition, even the ambition of doing much good.  And remember as a last word:  in the Christian ministry, all self-seeking is fatal.

 

*** With gratitude to Jason Goroncy in his excellent book containing published and unpublished sermons by Forsyth, the one I am posting (in three parts, part one here, part two here) is previously unpublished (p.352-355), and I whole-heartedly commend the book, as I have already done in a previous post, not least for an outstanding introduction (worth the book money alone)!

To Ministers & Preachers (pt2)

On October 20th 1909, P. T. Forsyth delivered an ordination address based on John 17:6,

“I manifested thy name unto the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me.“

The sermon is very short and broken down into three parts, The Property, The Gift, The Use.

We continue with part two….

 

blueforsyth-5

 

“Thou Gavest Them to Me.”

Your ordination is an act and gift of God.  He is putting His people into your hands.  He does not so much give you a position as a trust.  He puts His Church in your care.

But it is also true that He entrusts this Church with you.  If they treat you ill, it will affect your whole life, and just the same if they treat you well.  A Minister is very much what his first Church makes him.  But let them remember this, that to treat you well they must treat your Gospel better than you.

Therefore it is not popularity you must think about first.  Do not crave morbidly for your people’s love.  Craving does not bring it, and often arrests it.  Do not beg for sympathy.

Think of your Church from the other point of view, as a trust from God to whom you must be faithful in it.  This flock is committed to you by God.  You do not simply take each other but, as in true marriage, God has given you to each other.  This is really a marriage ceremony.  You are being married to the Church.

This will comfort you when you are doubting if you should be at this work.  Say to yourself, “Thou hast given them to me, the responsibility is Thine.”  Da quod jubes et jube quod vis (“Give what you command, and command what you give,” St Augustine, Confessions 10.29.40).  I am not worthy.  Yes that is true, but what is that to thee, follow thou Me!

Of course you are not worthy to preach the Gospel; none of us is worthy.  But then your people are not worthy to hear it.  If it depended on worth, there would be neither preachers nor listeners.  The worth is where the power is, in Christ and God, who does not give us according to our deserts.

Lest you be overwhelmed with the greatness of your task, remember no Church is given to any man without the Saviour of the Church and of Him.  After all, it is Christ’s Church more than yours.  He is the real Pastor of every real Church, and the Bishop of its Minister.  You are but His curate.

[Next] the use of gift.

 

With gratitude to Jason Goroncy in his excellent book containing published and unpublished sermons by Forsyth, the one I am posting (in three parts, part one here) is previously unpublished (p.352-355), and I whole-heartedly commend the book, as I have already done in a previous post, not least for an outstanding introduction (worth the book money alone)!

To Ministers & Preachers (pt1)

On October 20th 1909, P. T. Forsyth delivered an ordination address based on John 17:6,

I manifested thy name unto the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me.

The sermon is very short and broken down into three parts, The Property, The Gift, The Use.

jason-goroncy-2013Below is part one (The Property), and over Easter I will blog the other two parts.  With gratitude to Jason Goroncy in his excellent book containing published and unpublished sermons by Forsyth, the one I am posting is a previously unpublished one (p.352-355), and I whole-heartedly commend the book, as I have already done in a previous post, not least for an outstanding introduction (worth the book money alone)!

 

forsyth on wallEnough of Gralefrit!  Here’s Forsyth….

‘Thine They Were.’

These are God’s people.  Christ’s people, not yours.  You say they are “my people!”  Yes, but only because they are the people of God.

To begin with, they cost Him more than they will ever cost you.  If ever they are trying, and if ever they tax your patience, remember that.  And if ever you feel unequal to your task, remember that they are more His than yours, because they cost Him more.  Your Church . . . . is the Church of the living God, bought by Christ’s most precious blood.

You will see then that the Church is composed of those who are His people in a very different sense than, for instance, “the earth is the Lord’s” (Ps 24:1).  The Spirit of the Lord fills and moves His creation, but what made the Church, and fills and moves it, is His Holy Spirit, something far more intimate to God than the power and order of creation, something dearer, something greater.

All men are God’s as part of His creation; they are His offspring.  But there is something greater, diviner, than humanity; it is the Church of God.  The Church of God is the finest product of humanity; it is the greatest thing in the universe.  And this is so because it was produced by God in His Son and Holy Spirit.

The Church is His own as no nation is, no society, no family.  The Church is His as His Son is His – His in His Son.  He is not as a part of creation, but as a new creation in Jesus Christ.  If in Love He created the world, in much more love did He create the Church.  It was in might and beauty He created the world; it was in Holy love He created the Church.  It is His as nothing else in the world is.  It is the Church of His Son, and His Son is more to Him than all the world.

I speak of the Church of course, as God sees it; God who sees the end from the beginning.  You also must learn to see your Church like that; not as a man sees it but as God redeemed it, and as God trusts it, and bears with it, and feeds it, and serves it, and waits for it while it grows to the mature man in Jesus Christ.

I have spoken of the property.  I now come to speak of the gift….

Grace is…

IMG_6194I have just discovered this gem of a series called ‘On the Cost and Grace of Parish Ministry’ by Jason Goroncy.  What follows is a snippet from the ninth part of the series on the subject of Sabbath.

Sabbath is a setting free, and this happens “through Jesus Christ who in his incarnation entered into the nothingness and dread of human depravity in order to bring creation into the saving rest of God.  The Bible’s word for this action is ‘grace’.

Grace is never a soft thing.

Grace is a man groaning on a cross, dying on a bitter tree, not only for his friends but also for those who would wish him and his Father dead.

Grace is God redeeming in Holy love.

Grace is God in his eucatastrophic action in the face of Nature’s catastrophe.

Grace is God taking seriously the scandalous nature of sin’s offence, and himself going down into the experience of nothingness and dread, into hell, into death, into the furnace of His own wrath, into the radical depths of its wound, in order to save.

There can be no higher gift.

This grace alone, the grace of the initiating Father, lived in the obedient Son, and made alive through the Spirit, carries humanity home and brings creation into the Sabbath rest of God.  Only then can Paul sing, ‘For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom 8:38-39).

Now the ‘Lord of the Sabbath’ calls us into his rest in order that we might join him in doing the things that He is doing ‘on the Sabbath’ every day of the week.  There can be no place here for that Sabbatarianism that consecrates one day out of all the others, In Christ, every day is about Sabbath rest, renewal and healing, that our entire ministry may be performed under the grace-aegis of God.  To keep the Sabbath is never about conformity to rules and regulations (Col 2:22), but is about conformity to Christ who is Lord of the Sabbath.”

And this is truly a grace.  God is good.