Tag: Sermon Snippets

Utterly Absurd & Very Rude

‘Sermon Snippets’ is an occasional series, taking bitesize chunks from our Sunday sermons.  The following excerpt is adapted from a sermon on Hebrews 10:1-18, preached by Nigel Styles last Sunday.  You can listen to the whole sermon here.


Throughout Hebrews, we’ve been thinking about what Jesus did on the cross.  One of the big themes we’ve seen is that Jesus has completed a finished work.

He has done everything needed so we can now draw near to God.  Our conscience is cleansed so that I really can feel clean.  No longer do I need to keep being reminded of my sin, because my sin has been forgiven and I am set apart as one of God’s own people.

The Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever makes me perfect in God’s eyes for all time and forever.

The old system could never do that.  That is why the priests in the temple of the Old Testament were always busy, incessantly doing something to try to bring worshippers into touch with God.  But for all their ‘doing’, Hebrews tells us that they are doing nothing real.  Add together all the smells and bells, and it comes to …. zilch!

It does not make me clean.

It does not take away my sin.

It does not make me right with God.

It does not make me perfect.

Meanwhile, Jesus is sitting down!  He’s made his sacrifice just once.  And that one work on the cross is effective for ever, for every sin of every sinner at every place and time.  All of that has been taken by him on his broad shoulders.  And he finished that work he came to do.  There is nothing more to be done.

So now imagine you and me standing in an art gallery in front of a masterpiece.  And imagine that I whipped out a paintbrush and a pot of paint, and reached forward to touch up the painting.  Aghast, you say, ‘what do you think you’re doing?’

‘Ooh, I’m just going to improve it,’ I say.  How absurd that would be!

But it is no less absurd to think we can add to what Jesus has done.  I cannot add anything to the work of Jesus for me … without taking away from its value.

It is being very rude to Jesus to think we can add to him.  All has been done.

Listen to the rest of the sermon here.

Jesus, Our Bomb Disposal Expert

‘Sermon Snippets’ is an occasional series, taking bitesize chunks from our Sunday sermons.  The following excerpt is adapted from a sermon on Hebrews 4:14-5:10, preached by Nigel Styles last Sunday.  You can listen to the whole sermon here.


Jesus is our Great High Priest.  The thing is: why do I need one?!

If we travel back to the Old Testament and to Leviticus 16 we know that that on the Day of Atonement, after an animal was sacrificed, it was the job of the High Priest to carry some of its blood into the Most Holy Place where the Lord was said to be.  This was a moment of supreme danger, for God in his burning holiness is dangerous.  That blood of sacrifice was the one thing between the holy and the unclean.

What would happen?  What would God make of it?

Imagine the huge relief when the High Priest came back out again.  His reappearance said that God had found a way to reconcile unholy people to his own holy self.

We may feel squeamish at all this.  We might think that it sounds primitive to try to ‘bribe’ a deity with animal blood!  But what do we know about it?  What makes us think we’re the experts on how to approach God!

Of course sinful people like us can’t just draw near to a holy God. The system of Old Testament priests makes that very clear.  Without a go-between, we could never get within a million miles of God.

We’ve become used to hearing about the terrible ‘improvised explosive devices’ placed all over Afghanistan.  Because there are so many, and because they have had such devastating effects on our troops, the bomb disposal expert is a vital resource in modern warfare.  He is the one sent in to defuse an explosive situation.  Old Testament priests were like that – sent into God’s presence to clear a path through the minefield of God’s condemnation of sin.  Their work made it possible for God and sinners to meet … safely.

All of that happened at God’s direction because he was looking forward to the cross where the very last sacrifice would be made: a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.  The Son of God bore the wrath of God.

And then just like the Old Testament High Priest, Jesus took up that blood from his own sacrificial death, ascended into heaven, walked into the presence of God and sat down at his right hand.  He could sit because his work of being a sacrifice was completely finished.

But there’s still much for Jesus to do in heaven.  Even now, he is being our high priest.

Every time we try to approach God, it’s as if God asks, ‘And who do you think you are?’  And Jesus takes his Father’s finger to feel the scars in his hand where nails went in.  Those are the reminder of his sacrifice.  Jesus doesn’t need to say anything.  He just needs to sit there, presenting the blood from his sacrificial death.  That is how he intercedes for us.

And Jesus is still doing that right now.  For example, when we come to pray, Jesus is sitting next to his father, being our high priest, presenting evidence of his finished work for us so we can draw near to the throne of grace.

Through Jesus, our great High priest, the minefield has been cleared.  The explosive situation defused.  And it is now safe to ‘enter’.

Listen to the rest of the sermon here.

Rest Is The Goal Of Creation

‘Sermon Snippets’ is an occasional series, taking bitesize chunks from our Sunday sermons.  The following excerpt is adapted from a sermon on Hebrews 4:1-13, preached by Nathan Burley last Sunday.  You can listen to the whole sermon here.


God stopped working (Heb 4:3) “from the foundation of the world.”  God made the world and then clocked off.  He punched his timecard and has been resting ever since.  Yes, He’s active in sustaining the world and engaged with the people in it.  But in a very real sense, His creating job was finished a long time ago, and it’s been a long weekend ever since.

God made the world on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, then on Saturday, “God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”  So what did God do on day 8?  Well He didn’t go back to work did He?!  Build another universe.  No, the job was finished.  Day seven onwards, God rested.

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this as you’ve read the first couple of chapters of Genesis, but a pattern emerges.  God makes stuff, says it’s good, there’s evening, there’s morning, that’s it.  But when you get to day 7 it changes.  Not only is there no making stuff, but there’s no mention at the end of, “And there was evening, and there was morning, the seventh day.”  It’s almost like the seventh day doesn’t have an end.  Now I’m not saying it didn’t, but for God this day of rest didn’t finish with a mug of Horlicks before bed time.  And neither was it a lovely day off, shame there’s work in the morning.  God rested on the seventh day and has been resting ever since.

Rest is the goal of creation.

In our busy culture, rest can end up just being fuel for work.  “Have some sleep, you’ve got a busy day ahead of you.”  We rest to work.  But biblically we should work to rest, cos that’s what God did.  Work is good thing in and of itself, but it’s also there in order to provide for rest.  Why grow crops?  To enjoy eating them!  You don’t eat them just so you’ve got the energy to grow more!  Resting is the goal of creation.  It’s more than just inactivity, it’s celebrating and enjoying the fruit of our labours.  Like God did, making things, stepping back to see that it’s good, and then moving on from making them into enjoying them with us.

Resting is the goal of creation.  It’s what God has been doing for centuries.  After all in v5 he said, “They shall not enter my rest.”  Not their rest, but my rest.  It’s not that the Israelites were naughty so they weren’t allowed to go on their holidays,  but they cut off their relationship with God so He wouldn’t let them join Him on His holiday.

I know I’m making a big thing of this.  Why?  It changes how we think about God.  He isn’t a frantic ‘work, work, work’ kind of God.  He isn’t rushed off His feet.  Or constantly in the office keeping on top of things.  God is a resting God.  He’s ruling over the universe, but that is a joyful thing.

The Bible talks a lot about heaven and the new creation, and how wonderful it will be.  And this bit of the Bible tells us that this wonderful future will be our opportunity to finally enjoy the rest which God is enjoying right now.

That tells us something about God doesn’t it!  He delights in the finished world that He’s made.  He isn’t anxious or stressed or over-worked or tired, despite having a LOT more responsibilities than any of us!  He rests.  And He invites us to join Him.  Isn’t that wonderful!  God the Father, Son and Spirit, eternally enjoying one another, making a world for us to live in and then calling us to enjoy it with Him…

If we’re Christians, we know something of this rest already.  Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.”  People who trust in Jesus can rest from the non-stop treadmill of trying to earn our way into God’s favour.  But the complete rest is in the future…  God promises real, never-ending rest.  We should look forward to this!  It will be everything we’ve ever dreamed of.

Listen to the rest of the sermon here.