Monthly Message Mar-Apr 2022

Apologies for no Monthly Message in March; I must have been pre-occupied with the Spring Event!  Here, as an Easter reflection, is a summary of something I spoke about on that occasion,

Jesus said: But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32). That word “draw” occurs five times in John and once in Acts. It is used of Peter drawing his sword, of hauling and dragging a net full of fish, and of dragging Paul and Silas into the marketplace.  It is also used of being drawn to Jesus, here in John 12, but also in 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

So it is a word that conveys something very powerful: pulling out a sword to use it, dragging ashore a full net, dragging someone before a crowd – and drawing sinners to a Saviour!  It takes power to draw a sword, haul a load of fish, drag a reluctant person.  And it takes divine power to draw a sinner to Christ!

People are saved as they are powerfully drawn to Jesus through the cross.  So let us pray for ever more powerful preaching of the cross in our day, and in our churches.

Jesus described the cross here as “When I am lifted up from the earth…”. Remember how he said to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life”.  He was referring to Numbers 21, where God sent venomous snakes among the people on account of their rebellious grumbling. Moses was to put a bronze snake on a pole so that everyone who looked at that snake would live. That was but a foreshadowing of what Jesus would eventually accomplish on the cross: “…so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life”.  Notice the word “must”.  The cross is not ‘a’ remedy for sin; it is ‘the’ one and only remedy. Only in the cross can the demands of God’s holiness and righteousness – and love – be met.

Jesus used the term ‘lifted up’ “to show the kind of death he was going to die”. But the same word is used in Acts of Christ’s exaltation to God’s right hand.Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit…” (Acts 2:33) and “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour…” (Acts 5:31).  And, when we humbly come to Christ in repentance and faith we, too, are lifted up.  James 4:10  “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” and I Peter 5:6  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time”.  Jesus was lifted up on the cross, so that he might lift us up to glory!

May you, this Easter time, be drawn afresh to the Saviour, and may he lift you up.

Your brother in Christ,

Tony Mason

Monthly Message Mar-Apr 2022

Monthly Message Feb 2022

Dear friends,

As I write, our country and the wider world in some cases, is watching expectantly for the answers to questions about such matters as a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, justice and relief for the people of Afghanistan, the outcome of a police investigation into No 10 Downing Street  ‘parties’, whether Boris Johnson will resign and who will replace Dame Cressida Dick – to mention just a few.  There is no absolute certainty attaching to any of these expectations but they occupy the thoughts of the media and the general public and quite possibly you and me.

One event, however, is certain: the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Now that’s been promised for a very long time and, since it hasn’t happened yet, we may not be looking for it as keenly as we should.  It is somewhat strange that we are not watching for it all that acutely because, unlike the other things we are watching, this one is actually promised by none other than the Lord himself.  And he hasn’t broken a single promise yet, and he never will!

For most of the things we expect we have plenty of warning – advancing old age, impending retirement, upcoming holidays, the birth of a baby and so on.  But there will be no warning of Jesus’ return.  He will come as a thief in the night (no burglar ever phones in advance to arrange a time!).  He will come while life is going on as normal with people eating and drinking, getting married and giving their daughters in marriage. So it will be, all of a sudden, with the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords.

All evil, trouble, sorrow, anxiety and uncertainty will be over when he comes as Judge and to take to himself for ever those whom he has redeemed by his precious blood.  Then the uncertainties and injustices of situations like Ukraine, Afghanistan, partygate, police and prime ministers, and everything else, will all be resolved.  Then there will be a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

So, as we look out over our world, where does our hope, our expectation lie?  In man’s frailty or in God’s total trustworthiness? Are we watching and praying for Jesus’ return, and are we ready?

Your brother in Christ,

Tony Mason

PS If you haven’t yet booked in for the Spring Reunion Event on March 12th do make sure you do so by February 28thswbible.focus@gmail.com

Monthly Message Feb 2022

Monthly Message Jan 2022

Dear friends,

Way back in 1940 the philosopher C.E.M. Joad wrote: “We have abolished the fear of God and instead we live in constant fear of man.  We have done away with the idea of a hell in the future and we have succeeded in turning our lives in this world into a living hell”.  Eighty-two years later the same could be said of our world today.  Men and women live in fear – of Covid, climate change, economic collapse, violence, exploitation of the young, neglect of the old, inevitable death and so on and so on.

The most we can do about any of these fears, if we can do anything at all, seems so insignificant compared to the size of the problem.  Yet we try, as if man can solve everything.  So many are still followers of the dictum of A.C. Swinburne, the 19th century writer: “Glory to Man in the highest! For Man is the master of things”.  In complete contrast, Jesus said: “apart from me you can do nothing.” [John 15:5].

Is there not a great, urgent need for men and women to replace all their fears with a true fear of God?  When the angel Gabriel came to Zechariah in the temple “he was startled and was gripped with fear”.  Then when Gabriel visited Mary she was “greatly troubled”, and the reaction of the shepherds to the angelic visitation was that “they were terrified”.  On each occasion the angel’s response was “Do not be afraid”.  Each of these three persons, through the angel, came face to face with the presence, power, word and grace of the living God.  Is not the greatest need of our day a fresh visitation of God to his people by the Holy Spirit in revival?  Is not our greatest duty in our day to pray for that revival?  Shall we resolve to go into 2022 praying that the Lord will show us, and our nation, what he is saying to us through, among other things, Covid, the social and moral malaise, the tragic weakness of the church in our time?

In a letter to a friend in 1945, the late Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones wrote: “I long for revival comparable to that of the 18th century.  More and more am I convinced that there, and there alone, lies our hope.  I believe that the people at the back of the ‘Faith for The Times’ Campaign are beginning to see that now.  But they so enjoy organising activities and meetings!”   Almost eighty years on, do we have the faith and the conviction to bear that burden forward?  Let us encourage one another in this at our Spring Event: 12th March, URC Hall, 9.45am-12.30pm.

Your brother in Christ,

Tony Mason

 

Monthly Message Jan 2022