1st January 2013

Message from the Pastor

‘But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only’

Matt. 24:36

We are still here. As one newspaper headline put it, ‘We survived.’  In the media there was quite a hoo-ha and a buzz with a corresponding amount of coverage given to the ancient Mayan ‘prophesy’ that the world would end on 21st December 2012 – at 11:11am to be precise. Even, I understand, movies were made, full of action and suspense, showing how this apocalyptic scene would unfold … and who would survive… and how.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, as the alleged hour of doom approached, those who had viewed this with confidence and had ‘faith’ in this prediction increasingly watered it down. “It was only an end of an era … not, in fact, the end of the world, per se”; “the date was perhaps wrong, a later one would come around” were the type of phrases bandied about as the predictors of the world’s end made their desperate attempts to hedge and thus not have to admit the plain truth – namely that they were wrong; the Mayan prophecy was false.

The question arises, how should we as Christians respond to such folly? A natural reaction is to stand, as many have done, and mock at yet another bogus prediction; but surely this is the world’s way; wouldn’t we do better to have sympathy upon those who believed in such. Although many took the prediction lightly and tongue in cheek, others, in all seriousness, took drastic action, even paying sizeable amounts of money to travel to some perceived place of refuge; others sold possessions; some even purchased ark-like survival pods. Noticeable, and arguably challenging to us, their ‘faith’ had works!

But then, secondly, we can learn from such responses. Be they large or small, serious or half joking, we see that men need to have something in which to believe. Faith is integral to many of the responses to this ‘prophesy.’ As I have considered the many religions and superstitious practices which we see in the world around us, it is strikingly clear that men are looking for something … indeed at times, anything, to believe in, to put their trust in. And thus we see our neighbours reading their horoscopes, the rise of quirky new age type religions alongside more traditional ‘faiths’, even in this increasingly materialistic world. Such hunger should be viewed as a definite opportunity for outreach with the Gospel truth.

But then, looking to ourselves and our religion, as we consider yet another failed apocalyptic prediction, we should have cause for confidence and true faith. The Bible is full of prophetic material; in our precious book we have both distant predictions forecasted… along with those same events, foretold, coming to pass, in precise accord with their corresponding prophecy.

One of the wonderful joys of the Christmas season is to be reminded of a number of those prophecies coming to pass in the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the events surrounding that momentous point in the history of the world. Think, for example, of:

Micah 52:   ‘But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting’ or

Isaiah 714:‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’

These prophecies were made hundreds of years before that blessed scene surrounding the manger in Bethlehem occurred – that scene where they were fulfilled to the very letter.

But such, for us, should not only be a cause of abundant joy, but also of comfort and assurance, for surely one of the great proofs that the Bible is, in truth, the infallible Word of God, lies in such predictions coming to pass; surely they are great and invincible evidences that the Inspirer and Author is none other than the omniscient and eternal God; He Who reveals of Himself in the words of Isaiah 46:9-10:

 ‘I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning’

The days in which we are called to serve the Lord in are days of serious departure from the Holy Scriptures; and not only in the majority of established churches is this rife, but sadly, even in professing Reformed Evangelical circles this deadly malaise has made headway: we are forced to admit that the enemy of the church has known a measure of success in tempting us away from the ‘old paths.’

But what was the reason he was able to do so? Surely, a softening up process took place first, in which he caused these churches to doubt the power and the accuracy of the Bible.  The all-sufficient Word’s sufficiency was questioned in areas such as worship, church government and witness – and thus extra-biblical methods and approaches were preferred – those opting for them believing that such would see a greater level of success in church life and mission. Unbeknown to them, they were, in truth, merely taking the first steps on the slippery slope which slides down to rank liberalism and apostasy.

The fruit of such is not difficult to behold: just walk around the village and count the sad sights of chapels and churches, once thriving with worshipping folk, their doors now closed and windows often broken.  Such should serve as a warning to all they that pass by, as well as a cause for us to cling more definitively to the Bible, God’s Holy Word, no less, even as is established so convincingly from its fulfilled prophecy.

The Bible which will be seen by all to be true, when all such true prophecy comes to pass, when the end of this world does come on the day and at the hour that God has chosen not to reveal to men or angels but nevertheless, most assuredly shall come. In the meantime, as we go into this New Year, let us resolve to be those who, by God’s grace, cling wholeheartedly and tenaciously to this blessed Book, as God’s complete and infallible Word, fully sufficient and abundantly adequate for all we do as private individual believers and corporately as His church.

Pastor Paul Ackerley