Dear Church Family,

Greetings in the Name of the One who is a Consuming Fire.

A secular musician once wrote a song, lamenting the state of the world in which he had been raised. The lyrics of the song listed the names of people, events, tensions, and sorrows. The chorus called it all a ‘fire’. To quote just a small part of the song:

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh,

Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock,

Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine,

terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

“Wheel of Fortune”, Sally Ride,

heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets,

AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores,

China’s under martial law
Rock and roller cola wars,

I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on

 

Perhaps you will indulge a in little analysis. While the songwriter certainly captured the chaos of human history in his words, there are some notably absent truths, and indeed some falsehoods to what he was saying. For starters, the world was not created in a state of misery (‘always burning’), but rather of perfection; it only fell into sin as a consequence of human rebellion against the Holy God. Again, while the devil did indeed deceive Adam & Eve, ultimately it was us who ‘lit the fire’; for each of us has entered into that same rebellion since birth. And we did not ‘try to fight it’ (the singer himself professes to be an atheist, and has lived accordingly), but we were all willing participants, until such time as the grace of God gives some new hearts, and we are free in Christ. And finally, that nihilistic cry of despair at the end – “when we are gone will it still burn on and on…” – is consistently ‘atheistic’, but it is not the Christian’s attitude. For we have that glorious hope and confidence in the Lord’s return, and the new heavens and the new Earth. And then, somewhat ironically from the perspective of the song, God will use fire to ‘extinguish the fire’ that that the singer spoke about. Hear these words from 2 Peter 3:10-13:

“…the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

Consider again: the turmoil of our world – with all its global politics, pandemic sorrows and celebrated sin – will be bathed in a universe-wide inferno, ignited by Almighty God. And out of the ‘ashes’, He shall re-create (redeem) fallen creation. Those who are counted His enemies – outside of Christ – shall be cast into the eternal fire of Hell. Those who are counted His children, by grace – indwelt by Christ – shall live with Him, and in this new world, forever; in a world in which there is none of the ‘fire’ (sin, sorrow, chaos) of which the atheistic singer spoke. Rejoice, Christian! The Lord shall return! “And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.” “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

While fixing our hope on the world to come, we do still give thanks for all graces received in this world. It is encouraging to hear, this week, of some developments in treatment & ‘vaccination research’, related to the coronavirus. If indeed these represent actual progress, we must be careful to give thanks to God for His mercies extended through human agents. If they prove to be less than advertised by the media, we must be careful to trust in the decision of God to delay the desired outcome. Whatever may come of this, let us hold fast to this immutable truth – our God is the Sovereign Lord, Holy and True.

With regards to Sundays, here are a few brief updates:

  • Songs – We are now beginning to introduce some songs/hymns into the live-streaming of services. This was not initially possible, owing to both technical & copyright challenges that needed first to be addressed. We hope now to include more, as far as we are permitted & able.
  • New Series – Andrew & Colin will be preaching through a sermon series on the book of Titus; working together through that excellent book. This series will also run in the mornings, but only once a month (or thereabouts), to allow our momentum in Revelation to remain uninterrupted. Ultimately we hope to recommence evening services, though there is not presently any date set for this owing to the ongoing pandemic, and concerns/limitations that arise from it.
  • Attendance – At present, our morning service attendance (at the church premises) is still around 30 people, meaning there is still space for others to join should they so desire.
  • Sunday School Readings – A reminder that the Pilgrim’s Progress readings are available for the children through the Sunday School WhatsApp group. Alternatively contact Christine Gibbs for more details. This represents both a great opportunity for children to learn this helpful book, and the chance to keep some momentum with regards to our children’s Sunday routine.

May the Lord stir up your hope, and your zeal, until He comes.

With warm greetings,

Martin, Shane, Winton & Andrew