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Rev Robert Barthram's Monthly Letter

Welcome to the Rev. Robert Barthram's monthly letter

 

Here Robert will expore what is happening in the world and his life and how it affects his belief and his ministory.

By Rev Robert Barthram, Apr 2 2015 07:44PM

Dear Friends,


Recently on a Sunday evening the BBC began a new drama series Poldark based on late 18th century Cornwall. There were various publicity efforts for the new TV series including some still photos, everything appeared to be right in the photo for the period then someone spotted a burglar alarm box on a house wall. A bit similar to a publicity photo for Downton Abbey last year when on the mantelpiece was a plastic water bottle. Despite the probable hours spent on production the mistakes had been made and missed.


The photos illustrate how mistakes can be made and often very soon spotted and pointed out for everyone to see. I read some words recently that made me think of how easy it is to miss glaring mistakes.


I read, ‘Wherever you are, whatever you are like, whatever you believe, you are going to find a welcome,’ words referring to one persons view of heaven. They struck me as a bit odd, for is not the bible full of calls to repent and believe? Is not the Christian message summed up in John’s Gospel saying, ‘whosoever believes?’ Did not Jesus tell only one robber he was today to be with him in Paradise?


It was a strange thing to read in a Christian book. It did not take long to find the reason for such an idea for on the next page it said, ‘when Christ became man, God brought all men in as his children, not just the ones who made a profession of faith.’ One mistake leads to another. The bible states, ‘all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.’ God becoming human, the incarnation means we can enter into a new relationship with God, not that we have automatically done so; we are still free to reject God. He does not force us into His family.


The error made is actually a common one. Christmas is seen as more important than Easter, the incarnation and not the death of Christ is mistakenly seen as the crucial thing. As Christians we must always remember the cross and not the cradle is the heart of our faith. The death of Christ is the very heart of Christianity. Jesus died because there is something wrong with us all, keeping us from God. His death was for us. By faith it can be our death to the old life. Christ risen tells us He won a victory and if you believe in Him you share that victory. This is good news rather than the wishful thinking and the easy words of earlier.

It is good to spot mistakes, which is false teaching. We must refute that which undermines our faith. For in this sick and sorry world the honest if uncomfortable truth is better for all and means we do not vaguely hope we will go to Heaven but know that in Christ we do.

Wishing you a joyous Easter,


Robert


By Rev Robert Barthram, May 1 2014 12:00PM

Dear Friends


During our recent Lent course, several found the fourth session difficult which had the theme Jesus - conqueror of death. It is quite understandable that something that causes such pain should be difficult to speak about. In one of the groups it was related how someone had said they had never heard a sermon on death. It can't be right never to speak about it for as we have just recalled our faith is based on a horrific death on a hill outside Jerusalem; death is a reality that none can escape from, certainly not us.


In the bible, we are told that death is both the most natural thing and the most unnatural. It is natural to return to the dust, 'the silver cord is snapped, the golden bowl is broken' (Eccl. 12:6). It is also quite unnatural, Genesis speaks of death coming through disobedience and the apostle Paul writes, 'sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all' (Rom. 5:12)


In the bible, more is meant by the term "death" than when the heart stops and the brain ceases to function. Death also refers to exclusion from God's presence, a separation as we exist in this world. Our physical death is a symbol of a more serious spiritual death.


Our attitude as Christians to death should be very different to that of others, because of what we see as the problem and answer. Sin is the problem causing us to be shut out from God's presence. The answer is in one person, whoever believes in him, 'has passed from death to life', they, 'will live even though they die' (Jn 5:24; 11:25). So in this earthly life the exclusion from God is ended and eternal life begins as we believe, meaning physical death is robbed of its fear, it no longer is a sign of a deeper death but a stepping stone to a liberated life.


How this is achieved is by Jesus dealing with the problem of our sin in his death, so through faith in him we share in that victory. One who was without sin, for our sakes bore the penalty, so that we might not know exclusion from God's presence; as the Puritan John Owen said 'the death of death in the death of Christ'.


The sign and seal of this victory is the resurrection of Jesus. Easter tells us if we believe ,we share in the victory. We may pass altogether out of the state which is death and be brought into a new state, aptly called by the New Testament, life, and in due course will pass through the gateway of physical death as did our Lord


Wishing you a joyous Easter season. Robert.

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