8 April 2017

Times they are a-changin' (but not Jesus Christ)

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8). These true words are deeply reassuring in a world that is going through times of massive change (Brexit, Trump, Middle East wars etc). These true words are also a strong warning to those trying to change the message of Jesus to make it more acceptable to our culture.

As the family of PC Keith Palmer will tell you, you can't rewrite history. As much as we would like to rewrite the story, the fact is what happened on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 happened. It's the same with Jesus. What happened 2000 years ago happened, and we have the detailed account of events painstakingly recorded for us by the main eye witnesses to the life and death of Jesus. They also saw him, heard him, touched him, and ate with him several times after he was raised from the dead! These eye witnesses, called the Twelve Apostles, were with him for 3 years, indeed, "the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us…having witnessed his resurrection." (Acts 1:21). Their testimony, and the explanation of events that Jesus gave them, is what makes up the New Testament of the Bible. You can't rewrite it. This is history. It is what happened.

This is deeply reassuring. The New Testament shows us that Jesus is the Son of God whom God sent to save us. By his death on the cross in our place all who call on him are guaranteed the forgiveness of sins. And by his resurrection all who call on him will be raised from the dead as he was, to life in the new creation. The events that made this possible have not changed. The person who made these promises to us - Jesus Christ - has not changed. So the way to be saved from this broken world, and from God's final judgement on it, have not changed. Jesus did everything that was necessary for us to be saved. His work was complete. There's nothing to add to it. There's nothing about it that needs to be changed. In Jesus Christ, through faith in him, we have sure hope.

This is a strong warning. The Lord Jesus has not changed, does not change, and will not change. We are the ones who change. And it is our culture that keeps changing as different groups of people impose their views on the rest of us about what we should believe and how we should live. But this is God's world that he created with his Son the Lord Jesus. We were created to worship him and to discover "life to the full" by living the way he created us to live. We are not entitled to worship "other gods" of our own invention or "live as we please". We cannot change God to suit us.

For instance, God made sex to be enjoyed exclusively within the lifelong marriage of one man and one woman. That's where sex is best. That's where it fulfils God's purpose. Even though there is huge pressure on the church to allow same-sex marriage it has no right to do so, because neither Jesus nor his teaching has changed. It is we and our culture that must change.

The Lord Jesus warns us that refusal to do so brings terrible consequences, because it means we are rejecting him as the Lord. He alone has the right to govern the way we live. He alone knows what is best for us and our society. We are in no position to change things. God has set a day when he will judge us for the way we have lived and the way we have regarded him (Acts 17:31). The Lord Jesus commands us to change before that terrible day comes. He tells us to turn back to him and to his way of living, and promises that if we do he will completely forgive us, and give us new and everlasting life with him. As the first Apostles did, I plead with you, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."

Simon Smallwood
Pastor at St George’s