15 October 2017 Pastor Haydn’s Sermon – Exodus 19 – Beholding a Holy God

In Exodus 19, Israel sees her God for the very first time, and He is arrayed in the most magnificent, dread-filling, holy power the world has ever seen.  Here, we see that Yahweh God of Israel and what He expected of His people. But this vision is so dreadful, a crushing reminder that this God is so pure that He literally says to Israel, “Come near me and you shall die”. For a person who is loved by God through Jesus Christ, this God is no less holy and powerful – but now He is approachable!  So how does that all work?  And how does it help to remember that you are a treasured possession, holy, and to be used for priestly service to God?  Here is my sermon on this today from Exodus 19 (c.f. Hebrews 12:18-24).

God bless, Pastor Haydn.  

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Pastor Haydn’s Devotion – The Five Solas of the Reformation: Sola Fide (15th of October 2017)

Weekly Church Devotion from Pastor Haydn Sennitt –

“The Five Solas of the Reformation: Faith Alone”

When Martin Luther instigated the Reformation, he did so by one powerful idea.  He came across it in the book of Romans which says that even a Jew, though he has the most holy Law of God, cannot be justified by God by keeping that Law.  For Luther, this prompted all sorts of uncomfortable questions.  How can God make people with sin and then condemn them for not being able to keep His good and righteous Laws?  Can’t any good works save?  Paul himself wrestled with those questions in his dense, complicated epistle to the Romans.

In the Old Testament we see this.  In Deuteronomy 6, Israel is commanded: “You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”.  When Israel profusely protested that she would obey God Joshua prophesied: “You are not able to serve Yahweh, for He is a holy God” (Joshua 24:19a).  The rest of the Old Testament, with the exile of Israel due to her spiritual disobedience of God, is an outworking of that reality.  Even when people recognised the beauty of the Law (Psalm 119:24), it was powerless to restrain sin (119:36). 

Luther tried to justify himself by being devout in his religious work, but when he read Romans things changed!  In 1:17, he read: “The righteous shall live by faith”.  This is not faith in our own ‘goodness’ or our man-made works of righteousness but trust alone in the cross of Jesus Christ to save.  This is the next Sola statement of the Reformation: Sola Fide (Faith Alone).  When someone becomes a Christian, God puts all of Jesus’ good works and obedience onto you as if you had done them, and declares that you are righteous; that is the result of faith.  And faith, interestingly, is not a work of our own power, but is itself a gift of God!

Faith recognises our own powerlessness, and calls on Jesus to be our righteousness.  Faith is coming to God and recognising that it’s not in me to save myself, which means that it’s the ultimate statement of powerlessness and God’s ability to save.  Do you recognise and understand this?  Have you become a Christian, and remain as one, on the basis of this?  You can never do enough good works to save yourself.  We are saved for God works, but never by them.  Ask God to make this truth of Sola Fide a powerful reality in your life, and that your faith shall be built alone on Christ’s works for us and not in ourselves.  What a blessing this for us!  It frees us from trying to attain love by our own pitiful efforts!

~ God bless, Pastor Haydn.

8 October 2017 Pastor Haydn’s Sermon – Exodus 18 – Each Man His Place

Often we load up our own backs with extra burdens and responsibilities, even ones that God never intended us to assume.  But do we stop?  Do we get advice from others – and do we heed that advice?  Too many people take on unnecessary burdens and even think that their wasteful busy-ness is godly and productive when it’s actually the very opposite.  Moses does both, and becomes bogged down in settling disputes among the 2 million that he had lead of Egypt.  That is a crushing weight and so he delegates, but as Moses discovered the godliest thing to do is often to say ‘No’.  Here is my sermon on these themes from Exodus 18 (c.f. Acts 6:1-7).

God bless, Pastor Haydn.

Pastor Haydn’s Devotion – The Five Solas of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura (8th of October 2017)

Weekly Church Devotion from Pastor Haydn Sennitt –

The Five Solas of the Reformation: Scripture Alone

This month we celebrate the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation, which began when God Almighty used a quirky, obscure German monk named Martin Luther to question the theology of the Catholic church.  The Roman Catholicism, much like Soviet Russia, was assumed to be ‘invincible’ – her popes determined who controlled Europe politically and militarily!  Were it not for Luther’s revolution, we would probably all be Catholic now.  Arguably though, the modern Protestant church isn’t much different with its own compromises.

The Reformation centred around some pivotal notions, called the ‘Five Only’ statements.  These are 1) that the Christian faith rests ONLY on the authority of the Bible alone (Sola Scriptura); 2) that salvation is a gift, by grace ALONE (Sola Gratia); 3) salvation is by faith ALONE, and not good works (Sola Fide); 4) that there is salvation in NO name other than Jesus Christ (Solus Christus); and 5) that the salvation of the soul is for the glory of God ALONE, and not of self (Soli Deo Gloria).  Over the coming weeks, we will look at how these statements ground our faith.

Martin Luther discovered that false religion teaches that man is not justified by Jesus Christ, but by ‘good’ activity.  In Catholicism, this involved paying taxes to the church (called Indulgences), and regularly going to Mass.  He soon discovered though that Catholicism had wrongly understood justification (Romans 3:20, 24), and that there was no place (Purgatory) where dead souls can justify themselves by good works (Hebrews 9:27).  Much to his astonishment, he discovered that the Catholic position of priest was null and void because Jesus is now our high priest (Hebrews 10:11-14), and that every child of Christ is a priest (Exodus 19:6).

Today, we may take these truths for granted, but back then they were revolutionary, and they came from the Word of God.  They were not thought bubbles of Luther and Calvin. 

The Holy Scriptures substantiate their own authority.  We read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV): “… Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing … how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings [i.e. the Bible], which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ JesusAll Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”.  The Bible reveals God’s will and equips us to be fruitful for Him.  Jesus quoted the Bible and promised that they would never ever disappear (Matt. 5:17).

But isn’t the Bible written by fallible human beings and contaminated by a ‘little bits’ of error)?  Um, no, as we see in 2 Peter 1:20-21: “[Know] this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”. 

Without God’s Word, how do we know how to please Him?  Who is our Maker/Saviour, and what is He like?  Who are we in relation to Him and how do we understand others?  Without the Bible, we cannot work this out ourselves – it must needs be revealed to us by God, which is why the Bible is so important to the Christian faith.  In our own understanding we are so warped (Proverbs 4:23), but God’s Word sets our hearts and minds straight to please Him (Psalm 40:7-8).  Let us walk in confidence, knowing that God and His Word are trustworthy.

I will never forget your precepts, for by them You gave me life – Psalm 119:93.

~ God bless, Pastor Haydn.

1 October 2017 Sermon – Exodus 17 – Whinging Their Way Through Freedom

Israel is liberated by God from THE most horrible slavery to the most powerful nation on earth – and yet she still grumbles against Him!  This time it’s (again) about water – which God amply provides (again) before He saves her from the Amalekites.  As Christians, we can easily be like this – positionally, we are saved, but functionally we’re still atheists. If we don’t cease our grumbling, we may miss out on wonderful things from God and tempt His wrath (1 Corinthians 10:10).  What’s the answer to all this?  How about a life of thankfulness and childlike gratitude.  Here’s my sermon on this from Exodus 17 (c.f. Philippians 4:4-7).

God bless, Pastor Haydn.

Devotion – “Patience Through Trial” (1st of October 2017)

Long before we trod the earth, godly saints have undergone many trials (Hebrews 11:32-40).  How did they get through them?  Here three testimonies that will hopefully encourage you:

“In the late 17th century in … France, a girl named Marie Durant was … charged with the Huguenot heresy [of being a Calvinist]. She was fourteen years old … and was asked to [renounce] the Huguenot faith. She was not asked to commit an immoral act, to become a criminal, or even to change the day-to-day quality of her behaviour. She was only asked to say, “J’abjure”.  No more, no less. She did not comply. Together with thirty other Huguenot women she was put into a tower by the sea … for thirty-eight years she continued [this way] … And instead of the hated word ‘J’abjure’ she … scratched on the wall of the prison tower the single word ‘Resistez!’, resist …
We cannot understand a faith which is not nourished by the temporal hope that tomorrow things will be better. To feel this and still to persevere seems almost idiotic to a generation [like today’s] which has no capacity to wait and endure” …

Benjamin Warfield was a world-renowned theologian… But what most people don’t know is that in 1876, at the age of twenty-five, he married Annie Kinkead … During a fierce storm [on their honeymoon], she was struck by lightening and permanently paralysed.  [Warfield looked after her for thirty-nine years before her death, and they never had children].

Charles Simeon was in the Church of England from 1782 to 1836 and … was appointed to his church by a bishop against the will of the people.  They opposed him … because he was an evangelical [who] believed in the Bible and called for conversion, holiness, and world evangelisation.  For some twelve years the people refused to let him give the Sunday afternoon sermon … and locked their pews so no one could sit in them.  He preached to people in the aisles for twelve years!  … Simeon lasted fifty-four years [as the pastor of that parish]”

– Chapter 13 of ‘Future Grace: The Purifying Power of the Promises of God’, by John Piper.  Emphases added.

Let us keep these godly examples in mind with the words of William Cowper: “Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace.  Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face”.

~ God bless, Pastor Haydn.

24 September 2017 Sermon – Exodus 16:1-31 – Bread of Heaven, Feed Me Now and Evermore!

The Israelites have been out of slavery for two and a half months – so are they growing in their trust of God?  They sang His praises in the previous chapter, before complaining again.  In Exodus 16:1-31, things deteriorate as Israel grumbles her way before God provides meat and bread from heaven.  Jesus said He was the bread of life (John 6) and many of His followers deserted Him.  Will we do the same?  How can we avoid it?  Here is my sermon on this Exodus 16:1-31 (c.f. Mark 8:1-10).

Devotion – “Seeing Us Through Hard Times” (24th of September 2017)

… how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! – Matthew 7:11

Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct in this passage for those people who have His Spirit. He urges us to keep our minds filled with the concept of God’s control over everything, which means that a disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.

Fill your mind with the thought that God is there. And once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you experience difficulties it will be as easy as breathing for you to remember, “My heavenly Father knows all about this!” This will be no effort at all, but will be a natural thing for you when difficulties and uncertainties arise. Before you formed this concept of divine control so powerfully in your mind, you used to go from person to person seeking help, but now you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those people who have His Spirit, and it works on the following principle: God is my Father, He loves me, and I will never think of anything that He will forget, so why should I worry?

Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him. At times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God’s will is behind it. Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but is an attitude of the mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7).

– Oswald Chambers, July 16 Devotion.

~ God bless, Pastor Haydn.

Devotion – “Fighting Pharaoh’s Flinging” (17th of September 2017)

“A people near unto Him” – Psalm 148:14

The dispensation of the old covenant was that of distance. When God appeared even to his servant Moses, he said, “Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet”; and when he manifested himself upon Mount Sinai, to his own chosen and separated people, one of the first commands was, “Thou shalt set bounds about the mount.” Both in the sacred worship of the tabernacle and the temple, the thought of distance was always prominent. The mass of the people did not even enter the outer court. Into the inner court none but the priests might dare to intrude; while into the innermost place, or the holy of holies, the high priest entered but once in the year. It was as if the Lord in those early ages would teach man that sin was so utterly loathsome to him, that he must treat men as lepers put without the camp; and when he came nearest to them, he yet made them feel the width of the separation between a holy God and an impure sinner.

When the gospel came, we were placed on quite another footing. The word “Go” was exchanged for “Come”; distance was made to give place to nearness, and we who aforetime were afar off, were made nigh by the blood of Jesus Christ. Incarnate Deity has no wall of fire about it. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” is the joyful proclamation of God as he appears in human flesh. Not now does he teach the leper his leprosy by setting him at a distance, but by himself suffering the penalty of his defilement.

What a state of safety and privilege is this nearness to God through Jesus! Do you know it by experience? If you know it, are you living in the power of it? Marvellous is this nearness, yet it is to be followed by a dispensation of greater nearness still, when it shall be said, “The tabernacle of God is with men, and he doth dwell among them.” Hasten it, O Lord!

– Charles Spurgeon, September 15 Evening Devotion.

~ God bless, Pastor Haydn.