After breakfast, prayer and meditation on sermon notes for an hour. Then family worship (I read Psalms 124-127 and prayed). Put Sunday roast (pork) in the oven and leave for church. This morning I preached to Ebenezer Baptist Church on John 7:53-8:11. I didn't really want to say too much on matters of textual criticism, as it was more of an evangelistic message. But felt I had to mention something. We use the New King James version, but if people were following in the NIV, the verses would have been missing or bracketed off as disputed. Pretending that these issues do not exist plays into the hands of conspiracy theorists who claim that the church is not open about textual differences. Leon Morris and Don Carson argue pretty strongly that the verses do not belong in John's Gospel. William Hendricksen suggests that on balance they are authentic, but he is not dogmatic. I'm not entirely sure about the passage. The case against its inclusion seems pretty strong. But all seem to agree that the incident really happened and that we can learn something from it. Anyway, my main points were: 1. A dilemma for Jesus - should the woman taken in adultery be stoned? 2. How Jesus resolved the dilemma - 'Let him who is without sin cast the first stone'. 3. Jesus' words to the woman, 'Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more'. I emphasised that we should be careful about judging others - Matthew 7:1ff. Jesus had the right to condemn the adulterous woman but he did not because he came to save not condemn sinners (John 3:17). Although there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1), those who are forgiven are told to go and sin no more.
Paul Oliver, pastor of Bradford-on-Avon Baptist Church and I did a pulpit swap this evening, with him preaching at Ebenezer. Pulpit swaps are a good way of encouraging fellowship between churches. They also give you a sense of the challenges and encouragements that fellow pastors are facing in the congregations they serve. I spoke on Luke 7:36-50. 1. The parable of the two debtors. 2. The principle: those who have been forgiven much will love much. 3 The practice: love for Christ means costly self-giving service 4. The promise: your sins are forgiven, go in peace. Should you wish, you can listen here or download here.
On getting home we had a time of family worship before putting the children to bed. On Sunday evenings we are using Take Care in the Bath by Jim Cromarty, an excellent series of thought provoking stories. Today's installment led to a discussion of how we know that Christianity is the true faith. I read Psalms 127 & 128 and we prayed around.
Read a bit of William Hague's enjoyable William Wilberforce biog. Only two chapters to go. Not too heavy, good for Sunday night reading. Anything more substantial at the end of a Lord's Day would break my brain. Off to bed after own devotions feeling pleasantly tired.