1st April 2015

Letter from the Pastor

‘Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.’

Joshua 23:14

It is hard to believe that nearly 5 years have passed since the last general election. As per usual the media is full of this speech, that interview, all with the aim of parading party policies and manifesto promises, that they may win our vote on the day. Rightly, I believe, the current coalition has been called to account for pledges and promises it categorically made before the last election, but has failed to fulfil or keep. There are various reasons or excuses put forward, ranging from blaming the previous government, or citing conditions outside of their control – such as the world economy or the European Union. In some cases no excuse is even attempted; after all, everyone understands there are promises … and there are manifesto promises. My mind was cast back on a quote from the popular 80’s series, Yes Prime Minister, where the Minister, faced with a dilemma of having to keep 2 contradictory promises, states ‘but I can’t keep both promises … they were only political promises … I mean, like manifesto promises, people understand’.
Sadly, in this nation, as in many across the world, people do understand; they have little or no expectations that the manifold verbiage of those, in once respected positions, holds any weight of truth. Yes, they take it with a pinch of salt. Political promises are broken with a breath-taking carelessness. We cannot … we do not trust the word of such men any more. We have lost faith in them.
Thank God that His Word is not like that of the politicians and other leaders of our nation. The Bible makes the bold claims that God’s Word is holy … it is tried … it is unbreakable … it is ever true. Even as Ps 33:4 declares: ‘the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth’ – a blessed reality seen in the testimony Joshua gave at the close of his life and ministry in the text above; ‘not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof’. God’s promises are ‘Yea and Amen’ in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the testimonies of the Lord’s people, recorded in the Bible – recorded in church history – bear this out to be ever the case.
WE can see this most preciously in three vital areas:
In Salvation: As we come to the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, how comforting are the promises attached and surrounding it. Words such as Acts 2:21: ‘whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved’; Acts 10:43: ‘whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins’, and of course that blessed Gospel text itself, John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ What assurances come to the penitent sinner from these true and tested words of God. How they have been a sure foundation of many a Christian’s confidence and hope, down the ages, that through his Saviour, it is well with his soul. But then, also
In the Christian life: as trials, temptations and sorrows have flooded in, what a blessing the sure Word of our God is when it assures the saint… ‘Lo! I am with you alway’; ‘We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities’; that ‘God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able’. These and other assurances and comforts which the precious Bible contains, we are able to lean and repose upon; their being the faithful loving Word of this God who through Jesus has become our heavenly Father, full of care and compassion in the sure Covenant of Grace. But then also …
In the Christian’s hope: here the sure Word of God is most vital. In the other 2 areas we have a taste, we have an experience which accompanies the promises; we feel peace with God, we know the comforts and joys He brings from His Word throughout the Christian life. But when it comes to the hope of heaven – of this we have no experience – so must rely entirely upon what the God of heaven has revealed concerning that wonderful place.
But the Word of the God Who cannot lie is sure in this – as in all things! So when we read of ‘those that have fallen asleep in Jesus’; that ‘to die is gain’; that ‘in my Father’s house are many mansions’, we can rest in the certainty of these words. When the Bible describes our hope as a place of glory, love, joy – a place free from all pain, sorrow, suffering and grief – likewise, we can rejoice in the certainty that this is exactly how it shall be. When we read of our appearing in glory with the glorious returning Lord Jesus Christ – of ‘a glory which shall be revealed in us’, although we may not grasp the magnificence of this here and now – still it is an assured reality. Faith is substance! We rejoice in hope! – all upon the basis of this sure, tried and blessed Word of God.
As we look to the election next month, we may feel a considerable amount of uncertainty – another hung parliament is the most likely outcome, which in its turn produces further instability. Seeing these things before us, how much more should we cling to the sure and certain rock of God’s unchanging Word. How blessed we are as His people to know these sure things and to believe them!

Pastor Paul Ackerley