How do you explain what its like to listen to preaching which gives you Christ? Listening to preaching is not just listening to a lecture, getting information or just emotion and good stories. I don’t really know how to describe it but I love what John Owen says about it – which, once you unpack the language, describes exactly what I felt last Sunday. The Holy Spirit ‘excited’ us to faith and love, because of what was revealed to us about Jesus.
“There are two ways whereby the Holy Spirit excites the graces of faith and love and to frequent acts:
He does it morally, by proposing their objects suitably and seasonably under them. This he does by his ordinances of worship, especially the preaching of the word. God in Christ, the promises of the covenant, and other proper objects of our faith and love, being proposed unto us, these graces are drawn out unto their exercise. And there is one principal advantage which we have by attendance on the dispensation of the word in a due manner, – namely, that by presenting those spiritual truths which are the object of our faith unto our minds, and those spiritual good things which are the object of our love unto our affections, both these graces are drawn forth into frequent actual exercise.
And we are greatly mistaken if we suppose we have no benefit by the word beyond what we retain in our memories, though we should labour for that also. Our chief advantage lies in the excitation which is thereby given unto our faith and love unto their proper exercise; and hereby are these graces kept alive, which without this would decay and wither. Hearing that the Holy Spirit “take the things of Christ and show them unto us” John 16:14-15. (From Owen On The Holy Spirit p.389)
Sometimes we sing a song entitled ‘We Will Feast in the House of Zion”. This is what it feels like at St Peters at the moment. Last Sunday Sinclair preached two cracking sermons. The first is on Mark 10:13-16 looking at the place of children in the church and society….excellent.
Here are some of the quotes I took from it:
“it was not the mothers that brought the children to Jesus, but the parents, including the fathers. The greatest social problem that governments dare not mention – the absent father”
“take your children to the rabbi or to Jesus? Where are you going to take your children today – Dawkins and the thought leaders of our day or Jesus?”
“It is extremely countercultural to be a Christian today, to belong to the family of God, and to want your children to belong. Governments want us to conform”
“ David Hume’s philosophy was fine until he stepped out the door”
Then in the evening probably the most wonderful Christ centred sermon I have heard on John 1:14-15
Here are some of the quotes I took from this one:
“God seems to do his most amazing things in the darkness.”
“The incarnation is greater than the resurrection.”
“We are too used to the atmosphere of this fallen world to realise what it meant for Jesus to dwell among us”.
“Moses said show me your glory. God said you cannot see my glory and live. John says we have seen his glory. In this true temple you can behold the glory of God in a way that will not consume you”.
“We see the glory of Christ on the cross because it’s there we see how much he loves the heavenly Father”
“It’s why we come to church – to get a weekly taste of the glory – we are addicted to the glory of Jesus Christ.”
“The bright cloud was God’s pop-up book for immature children – we now see the glory of a person full of grace and truth.”
Sometimes there are positives in not being able to preach (I have had to cut down because of illness and waiting for an operation)…..being fed in this way is one of them!
And a key part of the worship is the sung praise – this is a version of Psalm 51 written and led by our elder, Crawford MacKenzie.