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Sunday, 27 May 2012


(CFRA broadcast date: Sunday, May 27th, 2012)

Broadcast Notes:
Walking by Faith’                                          

Allen: This program is sponsored by the Good News Christian Ministries, Box 184, Rideau Ferry, ON K0G 1W0. This is Allen Churchill speaking. If you were listening last week, you will remember that the Rev. Brian Wilkie was here with me, as the first of our new team of 4 preachers who will be carrying on these broadcasts while our good friend, the Rev. Don Crisp continues to regain his strength. I’m happy to say that Brian is here with me again today, and he will be delivering the message this morning. Welcome Brian, and thanks for being here.

Brian: Good Morning, Allen.

Allen: Brian,  what is your theme for today?

Brian: Today I want to speak about walking by faith: that is following Jesus in spite of the distractions around us.

Allen: Sounds good, Brian. I look forward to hearing what you have to say to us on this topic. Now here is  the singing group Glad performing an upbeat version of “Lead on O King Eternal”

Allen: Brian, may God be with you as you minister the Word to us.

Brian: Day by day we seek to follow Jesus, but when we do, there are times when even his clear commands, like forgiving one another, seem complicated. We can feel insecure when Jesus calls us to be generous, but we are not sure that we can afford to be obedient. Sometimes even praying is a challenge when God seems distant, and troubles seem very close.  Here’s a familiar event from the Gospel of Matthew 14:22-35. This takes place just after Jesus had miraculously fed five thousand people:

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.
23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
 24 but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret.
35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.

There are many reactions to Peter’s part in this story. I’ve heard snickering that he sunk into the waves, that his faith wavered; and yet John Ortberg notes that Peter is the only one who steps out of the boat. In the book “if you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat” Mr. Ortberg points to the qualities of Peter’s response: when Peter saw Jesus, he was afraid, and yet he said ,”if you ask me to, I will come out on the water to you,” When Jesus said, “come,” Peter,  obeyed.  There is much to be commended about Peter’s faith, and yet we are drawn to his fallibility.

In fact I am prone to be amazed at Peter’s stumble. Think about it, Peter was walking on water. Sure there was a storm around, but Peter was WALKING ON WATER! I’d like to think that if I actually got as far as walking on water, that nothing on earth could shake me. 

But is that true?

Peter’s stroll on the ocean is certainly an exceptional moment, but his reaction is all too ordinary. Did you ever think about why Matthew recorded this event in this way? Wasn’t it to teach Christian disciples about what to expect in their Christian walk? Now I don’t think he was telling us to expect water walking. But the thing we all experience is getting distracted, frightened and overwhelmed as we follow Jesus in a world of storms.

Sometimes we think that the problem is that God isn’t near enough, or doesn’t show us enough of his power.  But Matthew puts an end to that excuse.  When we see Peter sinking into the waves we understand that doubt can come even when Jesus is right in front of us, even when we are in the middle of a miracle. So let’s not pretend that it’s God’s fault.
God has given us the capacity to doubt, but that’s a good thing. Change and repentance are possible through doubt.

God has also given us an innate capacity for faith. We always walk by a sort of faith even outside of the specific Christian content of the term: we act on what we know even when what we see contradicts our confidence.  – walking in darkness,  trusting a schedule, or a friend.

I’ve heard that over 70% of the information entering our minds is from our eyes, much of the rest is from our ears and our touch.  And yet when our eyes deceive us we can continue to function by holding onto what we know. – i.e.; Crazy Kitchen.

WE are walking on water, miraculously borne up by the message of Jesus, hopeful in crisis, loving in persecution, self controlled in a relentless world of impulse. The fact that we still believe and obey is a miracle. So why do we still get distracted by the wind and the waves? Lord increase our faith!

But as God continues to teach us, we can take heart in how he treated Peter, who stepped out, then wavered and began to sink. Jesus still reached out to this man of little faith, still pulled him out of the mire. Still continued in faithfulness to a drowning man.

Matthew’s gospel assures us that God will do the same for you and me. That we can step out in faith and obedience, counting on him to be faithful, even if we should fall. With that kind of confidence perhaps we can dare to begin, and dare to continue one more step toward our Saviour.`

Will you Join me in Prayer?

Heavenly Father, thank you for the forgiveness which you so readily give when we are distracted from faith and obedience. Help us to trust you, so that we might stand in the day of trouble. Help us to trust you should we stumble, knowing that you are ever ready to help and restore us. We pray that the word of your faithfulness will go out into all the world, so that people everywhere may put their trust in you, to your glory, through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Saviour. Amen

Allen: Thank you so much, Brian. And thank you, listeners, for your encouragement, prayer and financial support. You keep us on the air week by week.  If you can, please make out a cheque payable to Good News Christian Ministries, and send it to  Box 184, Rideau Ferry, ON K0G 1W0. We will send you a receipt at income tax time. Please also tell others about this program, and don’t forget to visit our website. You will find several of our programs available on podcasts.

But most of all, we encourage you to worship in a church where the gospel is soundly proclaimed and lived out with compassion, integrity, and resolve.
Now to conclude our program here is  the Chancel Choir of Grace Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas, singing “O worship the King” .

May you know Jesus Christ personally and profoundly.  May the Holy Spirit reside deep within your heart. And may the heavenly Father surround you with his constant and abiding and accompanying love.

To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:
Rev. Brian Wilkie’s Bio:

Sunday, 20 May 2012


(CFRA broadcast date: Sunday, May 20th, 2012)
_________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________

Broadcast Notes:
Rev. Brian Wilkie
Meet Rev. Brian Wilkie’


Rev. Brian Wilkie is Pastor of St. Andrews United Church, Rockland, Ontario

The following is a conversation between Good News Christian Ministries Founder, Rev. Dr. Allen Churchill, and Rev. Brian Wilkie, the first of four new pastors who will be presenting on CFRA’s “Good News in the Morning”, on a regular basis.


Allen: This program is sponsored by the Good News Christian Ministries, Box 184, Rideau Ferry, ON K0G 1W0. This is Allen Churchill speaking. Today begins an exciting new chapter in the history of these weekly broadcasts. While we continue to pray for our beloved Rev. Don Crisp during his convalescence, we now have a team of 4 pastors who will carry on the programs on a rotating basis.  

(Here is a poster for an upcoming event in Ottawa, Ontario, to introduce all four of the new pastors:

Today I have the first of these 4 dynamic young preachers here with me in the studio. . .  Rev. Brian Wilkie of Rockland United Church. Good morning, Brian.

Brian: Good Morning, Allen.

Allen: Brian, would you tell us a bit about yourself?

Brian: Thanks Allen, I live in Orleans Ontario, with my wife Erica. We’ve been married 26 years, have 4 children, and one grandchild. I began my formal theological studies at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, completing my Master of Divinity at Emmanuel College in the Toronto School of Theology. May 31st will mark 20 years in ordained ministry, which has included service in Southern Ontario as a student, and pastoral work in Newfoundland, Ottawa and now Rockland. I also served for a time with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada in public policy work. I must add Allen, that a highlight of this ministry has been the years I served with you at Dominion-Chalmers where I was able to focus on evangelism and leadership development, during the exciting times of the Billy Graham Mission, and our Heart of Ottawa Mission.

Allen: That’s great! We’re going to hear more from Brian in a few minutes, but first let’s listen to this recording of Ottawa’s Capital City Chorus singing “Sweet hour of Prayer”.

Allen: Brian you have been a pastor for several years now. What do you feel is the most exciting aspect of your preaching?

Brian: I find the Scriptures, the Word of God to be so exciting: It can be read and studied for a life time and still have power to teach, transform and encourage. When I consider how the strong challenges of modern culture seem to be shaking the confidence of Christians I remember that saying that the Bible is an anvil that has worn out many hammers. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Word will never pass away.” - (Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33) I hope that excitement comes through when I preach.

Allen: I know that you are interested in missions. Would you tell us a bit about the need for missions in the world today?

Brian: The need for missions never fades. God’s people are still commanded to share the Good News everywhere.  Last year I was in Cambodia, serving local Christians there, as they reached out to their countrymen. What an eye-opening experience! While they were grateful for our support, I am sure that they were missionaries to us: teaching us about faithfulness, devotion, and the power of God! The greatest failure of the church has been to become complacent, apathetic towards a world that desperately needs to follow Jesus Christ.

Allen: Brian, you have an interest in youth. What are your concerns about young people and how do you reach them with Scripture?

Brian: Our mission to children is a perpetual mission. They don’t become Christian just by being born in a Christian home. Right now, youth need to see adults that are filled with the compassion of God, wise in the Word of God, and active in the service of God. Some youth are seeking anything worth committing to, and won’t be satisfied by youth ministries that merely entertain them. The world always does entertainment better! Revival always starts with the converted digging deeper. Youth need us to live out the Scriptures more energetically and passionately, if they are ever going to take the Bible seriously.

Allen: Thank you very much, Brian. Now let’s break in here and listen to Matt Redmann’s “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” 

Allen: Brian, would you give us the message that God has laid upon your heart for this morning?

Title:   'The Incomparable Glory of Jesus Christ'

Brian:   The Scripture that has my attention today is from Paul’s letter to the Philippians 2:9–11    
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.“

I wanted my first message here on Good News to be about the incomparable glory of Jesus Christ. And incomparable is the right word, for his glory is not that of the heroes of this world, nor that of other “gods” named by humanity. Jesus is given the glory for a different reason than heroes, and from a different source than any other being.

First, Jesus is given a name which is above all other names! He is given this name by God, the Father. If we praise Jesus, it is a good thing, but the praise of God the Father is a greater thing. We glorify all sorts of things: celebrities who impress us for a moment and then are reviled for their weaknesses. We praise our favourite pizza, or a particular brand of deodorant! But God gives his glory to his only begotten Son. God the Father is a better judge of what is praiseworthy than we are. The glory of Jesus Christ is that God the Father declares about him: “This is my Son, whom I love. I am well pleased with him, listen to him.” - (Matthew 17:5; Luke 21:33) Because God exalts him above every other thing, every power, every throne; above angels, above Moses and all the prophets, Jesus has an incomparable glory.

Secondly, Jesus is given this glory for a different reason than we give glory to others. According to Scripture Jesus had the glory of equality with the Father, being in very nature God the Son, and yet he made himself nothing, becoming a servant, humbling himself to a life of service, obedient to the Father, even to the point of dying  on the cross. Humanity craves power, independence, self-actualization, and we laud those among us who exhibit these qualities. We glorify the rich, the influential, the bigwigs. But Jesus is given glory for being a servant, for “becoming nothing.”  History and the Bible itself record the exploits of men who take the world by storm, name themselves gods, and are exalted by others for their success at acquiring great riches, and pleasures,  multitudes of servants and a fabulous life  for themselves. But God the Father exalts Jesus Christ for becoming a servant; to a lost humanity Jesus offers the riches of grace, the joy of heaven, and he offers the gift of life for others.

It has become a commonplace for people to say that all religions are the same. They quote Shakespeare, “What is in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet!” But there is much in the name of Jesus! The name is not just a collection of syllables, it is not just a sound. The name of Jesus is his identity as the only begotten Son, his record of giving and sacrifice, his reputation of compassion and grace. The name of Jesus is the story of the cross and the resurrection, of enduring love and gracious salvation.

Calling an idea, or creature, or person “god” does not make it the same as Jesus.  None other is eternally God, coequal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, none other has made himself nothing, forsaking the glory of heaven to invite a lost world to heaven. None other has been perfectly obedient in the Holiness of God, a perfect servant to his Father and to humanity. None other has given his own life for the salvation of the world. There is no other name with the same glory, none whom God the Father has glorified with this name, above every other name. “how sweet the name of Jesus sounds” “Jesus name above all names” our hymns seek to express our joy in Jesus, but they also echo the Father’s commendation.

And Paul, in describing the glory of Jesus declares, “let this mind be in you which was in  Christ Jesus!” - (Philippians 2:5). Have you ever wondered what truly pleases God? Look to Jesus whom God has glorified! It may seem impossible to become like Jesus, to turn from the pursuit of human glory, sin and selfishness, but Good news! The very thing for which Jesus was glorified is his work for your salvation, his readiness to receive ruined sinners and restore them to his glory. Are you ready to let him do this work in you? are you ready to ask Jesus to give you new life?

Allen: Thanks so much, Brian. Let’s pray . . .

Heavenly Father, We're grateful for your mercy. You call us to faith. You call us to obedience. You give us all that we need to be sound disciples. Christ is alive. We can overcome in Him.
Thank you, Father. Amen.

                     Don’t forget to worship in a church where the gospel is soundly proclaimed and lived out with compassion, integrity, and resolve. Now to conclude our program here is a fine hymn, Fairest Lord Jesus , preformed by the a cappella group Glad. 
May you know Jesus Christ personally and profoundly. May the Holy Spirit reside deep within your heart. And may the heavenly Father surround you with his constant and abiding and accompanying love.

To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:
Rev. Brian Wilkie’s Bio:


Sunday, 13 May 2012


(CFRA broadcast date: Sunday, May 13th, 2012)
_________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________
Broadcast Notes:
Lead Us Not Into Temptation’
Biblical Principle:
A Faith that cannot be tested cannot be ‘trusted’

Let’s recap what we have learned thus far:

1   The Didache

The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,

·         The Didache makes it clear that the early Church always
used the Lord’s Prayer in its public worship services and
did not permit unbelievers to join in the praying.

·         The Didache encouraged all believers to pray the Lord’s Prayer three times a day.

The first half of the Lord’s Prayer is directed to God-
·         His Paternity                              Our Father
·         His Person                                 Holy is Your Name
·         His Program                               Your Kingdom Come
·         His Purpose.                              Your Will be done

Now we move to our need for
·         Provision                                    Give us today our daily bread
·         Pardon                                        Forgive us
·         Protection                                  Lead us
·         Preservation                              Deliver us

1   Lead us Not in Temptation

Does the ‘word’ temptation always mean to tempt us to do evil?

·         God does not tempt us to do evil

‘When tempted, no one should say, God is tempting me. 
For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone;  but each one is tempted when by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.’                    James 1:13, 14

Ø  The Devil made me do it?
Ø  I wanted to do it?
Ø  God did not condone me doing it!

2   The word ‘Temptation’ also mean ‘testing’ or ‘trial’

The Fact is:
You and I are going to be tested.

Gen. 2:11
‘God tested Abraham’

Job 23:10
‘When He has tested me I will come forth as gold’

1 Timothy 3:10
‘They must first be tested’
Referring to the Office of Deacon

Jesus was tested as well
Matthew 4:1-11                     Heb. 4:14,15

Notice that the test was about ‘faithfulness’
The attack was focused on his ‘identity’

Let’s talk about ‘trials’

‘Consider it pure joy ….when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of our faith develops perseverance’ 
James 1:2,3

‘Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.’ 
James 1:12

The word ‘persevere’ in the Bible means to take whatever trial you are going through and use it as a platform to bring glory to God.

A Faith that cannot be tested cannot be ‘trusted’

Adam and Eve
(Adam’s bride)

The first Adam plunged us into sin
The  2nd Adam, Jesus Christ delivered us from sin.

The Church is the Bride of Christ we are in fact the 2nd Eve

Abraham had to be tested before he could be trusted
Abraham and Isaac

Sarah died age 127
Abraham died 175

3   A ‘Truth Lesson’

The Bible says that:
Satan is a deceiver
Satan is the ‘father of lies’
John 8:44

Satan masquerades as an angel of ‘light’
2 Cor. 11:14

Here’s the truth for our generation

·         not all light is truth
·         Don’t lie to yourself

Even our spiritual leaders are prone to fall.

Billly Graham said:
‘75% of our finest leaders have fallen to sexual sin

We all fall when we lose focus, when we allow ourselves to get distracted. 

Six Lies that we tell ourselves and open
The Door for Temptation’s Trap:
1 Corinthians 10:12, 13

Ø  It couldn’t happen to me
Ø  I’m the only one
Ø  God’s abandoned me
Ø  I didn’t have a choice
Ø  It’s not my fault
Ø  The devil made me do it

Sodom is a picture of Sin
·         He saw                    Gen. 13:10
·         Moved close           Gen. 13:12
·         Moved into             Gen. 14:12
·         It moved into him   Gen. 19:1

4   Know who you are and where you are going.

If you haven’t entered into God’s Will and God’s Plan for your life then let me ask you this question.

Do you know who you are and where you are going?

Remember in Satan’s attack and time of tempting Jesus
Satan attacked his ‘faithfulness’ to God’s Word and His very ‘identity’

If you haven’t entered into God’s will and God’s plan for your life, let me ask you this question: “Do you know who you are, and where you are going?”

The year was 2000, in January, the leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, invited their favourite son; you know who he is, Billy Graham. They invited him to a luncheon in his honour. Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation. He was struggling with Parkinson’s Disease, at that time, in particular. But the Charlotte leaders said, “Billy, we don’t expect a major address from you. Just come and let us honour you.”

After wonderful things were said about Billy Graham, he stepped to the podium, and he looked at the crowd, and this is what he said: “Today, I’m reminded of Albert Einstein. The great physicist, who this month, has been honoured by Time Magazine as the ‘Man of the Century – Albert Einstein’”. He said, “Let me tell you a story about Albert Einstein. He was traveling from Princeton, on a train, where the conductor came down the isle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, he reached into his vest pocket; couldn’t find the ticket. He reached into his trousers’ pockets; couldn’t find the ticket. It wasn’t there. He looked in his briefcase, but couldn’t find it. He looked at the seat beside him. He still couldn’t find it.

The conductor said, ‘Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.’ Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the isle, punching the tickets. And, just when he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physician down on his hands and knees, looking under the seat for the ticket. The conductor rushed back and said, ‘D. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry. Don’t worry about it. I told you, I know who you are. There’s no problem. You don’t need a ticket, I’m sure you bought one.’ Einstein looked at him and he said, ‘Young man, I too, know who I am. But the fact is, I don’t know where I’m going.’”

Having said that, Billy Graham said, “Do you all see the suit I’m wearing? It’s brand new. It’s a brand new suit. O yes, my children and my grandchildren have been telling me I’ve gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So, I went out and I bought this suit for this luncheon, and for one other occasion. Do you know what that other occasion is?”, he asked. “This suit, which I am wearing, is the suit that I will be buried in. And when you hear I’m dead, I don’t want you to immediately remember the suit I am wearing. But I want you to remember this: I not only know who I am; I also know where I’m going!”

So again, my friends, do you know where you are going?

Would you pray with me?

Father: thank you. Thank you for speaking to us:  to this essence of who I am and where I’m going. Lord, would you lead me, guide me and allow me, Lord, even when I’m being tested, even when I go through trials, to look to you for my strength for my courage, for my encouragement. I want to say today, Father, that I do trust you. And today, Father, I want to count you as my Father in Heaven, and Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for me. Thank you for paying for my sins. Thank you for being my Saviour. Lead on, O King Eternal.
Lord, let me say this now: how much I love you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Rev. Donald S. Crisp

To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

Sunday, 6 May 2012


(CFRA broadcast date: Sunday, May 6th, 2012)
Broadcast Notes:
A Faith for Today’


The Bible says: “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward you all, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence worthy of the righteous judgement of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus Christ is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those that do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3-8.



Somewhere deep in the hearts of many people lies both a longing and a fear. There is the longing to possess a faith that is personal, sound and adequate. Countering this desire for a genuine and useful faith is the fear that such a faith is nor attainable, or at least not by them.


The need to believe is more than obvious. The promises made by education, science and philosophy for a new humanity in a new age within a new world have not materialized, nor are there signs that this will be achieved by these means in the foreseeable future. Take education first. Our industrial society is being developed more and more into an information society. The increased use of computers is uncovering a major problem of illiteracy. Those who could hide their inability to communicate are now being found out because they can’t read the simplest computer print-out. Illiteracy, if found out, will not help you get or keep your job. Here is another strain, to be added to those already arising from a confused economy.


Or, take the advances in science. New ways of treating formidable diseases are being discovered. That can only be considered helpful and humanitarian. But with these advances come some problems. People that once would have succumbed to certain diseases will now survive and have children. Those children may carry and transmit a predisposition for that disease to future generations, with all that means for diagnosis, treatment and further complications. More ominous than this is the ability we are developing to alter the codescript of genes and to alter mental development and human behaviour. What we once criticized extreme practitioners of behavioural psychology for attempting, we are now facing with in a much more serious way from biology. The ability to make basic changes in human nature brings us face to face with ethical problems the immensity of which we are only beginning to understand.


Or again, there is the ubiquitous presence of secular humanism. Its influence has penetrated education, politics and the mass media. And not without problems resulting. In education, it has produced a system of values without ethical content. In politics, it has produced a bias in favour of what is popular rather than what is right. In the media, it has led to moral aimlessness and a general preoccupation with present crises to the exclusion of any serious analysis of the cause or its ramifications for the community or world in the future. What is more, the average person is unaware of the extent and depth of the influence of secular humanism and is so naïve and unqualified to do anything about it should its presence be detected.


What we are faced with, then, is intellectual and spiritual doubt, ethical indifference and a lack of moral constancy. We are not sure what we should believe. We are not sure how we should act. And we are so unsettled and hesitant that we have no staying power. What we hold to be true today, we may disbelieve tomorrow. What we consider right and acceptable behaviour today, we reject in favour of something else next week. And because we are unsure of our foundations, we cannot help but fluctuate between certainty and uncertainty, between confidence and hesitation. What we need is a faith that in theory and in practice takes us beyond the limits of modernism! What we need is an intelligent and triumphant faith, a magnificent and sensitive love, and a determined and abiding steadfastness.




“We ought always to thank God for you … because your faith is growing more and more …”


The little church at Thessalonica was under a cloud. The Christians there were hanging on only by the skin of their teeth. There were two problems facing them. One was external in origin, the other was internal. One was sociological, the other was theological. First, there were problems between the church and the surrounding community. The non-Christians were putting pressure on the Christians. The little church was suffering from persecution. (2 Thessalonians 1: 4-5) Paul had written to them on an earlier occasion and encouraged them in the midst of persecution at that time. (1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2:14; 3:7) His advice then was to lead a quiet life, mind their own business, and be hard workers so as to win the respect of the non-Christian community and be independent of them. (1 Thessalonians 4: 11-12) The antagonisms of the community had arisen against the Thessalonian Christians from the very first. Paul had had some success in preaching the gospel in the synagogue at Thessalonica. Some Jews, some Gentiles, and a number of prominent women had been persuaded of the truth of this message. A riot has resulted. (Acts 17: 1-9) Since the first, then, there had been no peace for the little church.


Second, there were internal problems of a theological nature. They had to do with the return of Christ and the general resurrection at the last day. What would happen to those Christians who had already died, perhaps because of the persecution, would they forfeit any advantage afforded to those still alive when the Lord returned? Paul had also addressed this problem in his earlier letter. (1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18) A variation of the same problem had arisen after this and had been communicated to the apostles. Some of the Christians at Thessalonica had somehow got it into their heads that the great day of the Lord had already begun. Apparently something attributed to Paul himself had misled them. The little church didn’t know what to believe, and had become unsettled and alarmed. (2 Thessalonians 2: 1-2). This was the situation then. The church at Thessalonica was self-conscious, full of misgivings and apprehension, Attacked from within and without, could they survive? What was Paul’s answer? What kind of advice would he give them? And what advice would he give us, if in the 21st Century we put to him a litany of similar problems facing us as a church and as individual Christians?


Paul looked into the heart of that little church and, despite evidence of the problems of which they complained, saw something else. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I see what you mean. I see your problem as a minority group in a sea of unsympathetic attitudes. I see people of other religious persuasions around you, who don’t appreciate your point of view. I see institutions that are antagonistic to your world-view. And I also appreciate your theological confusion about what exactly is going to happen to your loved ones and friends who have died.


Eschatology, (thinking about the last things), has never been the easiest doctrine to explain. But, I see something else in you that is a wonderful compensating factor. I see that the flame of faith still burns within you, and in fact it seems to be burning more brightly, more resolutely, and more effectively all the time. Don’t you feel that within you? Can’t you sense what God is doing? You only need faith the size of a mustard seed anyway, But God is taking that amount of faith you already possess and by his spirit is using these circumstances, these difficulties to develop your faith within you. You have far more faith than you think you have, and it is growing all the time because God is at work within you. Now is it up to you to nurture and foster that faith you already have.’ It was as though Paul is saying that their faith, though challenged, was growing exceedingly and above measure so that they almost have more faith than is required to cope with the problems at hand. On the other hand, he was approving of the continual growth and development of their faith.


What kind of faith did Paul recommend? He believed, first, that faith should be intelligent. The Christians at Thessalonica would have realized that. Their first exposure to the gospel was not some merely emotional to the gospel was not some merely emotional appeal to their religious sentiment. Paul had debated the issue with them, ‘explaining and proving’ the saving work of Christ on the cross and in the resurrection. (Acts 17:3). He had, of course, all the evidence of the life of the historical Jesus to point to. The Saviour was not the figment of someone’s imagination, the creation of some wide-eyed visionary. This Jesus had been born in Bethlehem in the days of Herod the king. He had grown up in Nazareth, and ministered in Galilee and Judea. Ask any number of those in the in the crowds who followed him and they would tell you of the Rabbi who taught as no other taught, who healed the sick, and gave encouragement to saint and sinner alike. Yes, he was put to death on a Roman cross, but it seemed as though it was foreordained and inevitable, as though the hand of God were in it from the beginning. And he wouldn’t stay dead! He refused. Ask those who saw him alive again, whose lives were changed from craven cowards to gloriously courageous preachers willing to die for their faith. And Paul is right. He learned from Jesus that we must love God with our minds. That is part of the first great commandment. And Christians who have a noteworthy faith make a point of basing the faith on the evidence; On the evidence of the historical Jesus, first and foremost; On the evidence of personal experience; And on the evidence of reason as we apply it to ultimate questions of origins, purpose and morality. If our faith is to be sound, it must be intelligent. It can be intelligent. The data is there.


But Paul also believed that faith should be Scriptural. If the basic data of faith is available, it needs to be interpreted correctly. The Christians at Thessalonica knew this from the beginning because at the very first Paul had ‘reasoned with them from the Scriptures’. (Acts 17:1). We require a text-book in most subject of importance. We need a road-map to guide us through the maze of possible roads we may take. So it is with faith. D.L. Moody, the Chicago evangelist, once said: “I suppose that if all the times I had prayed for faith were put together, it would amount to months. I used to say: ‘what we want is faith; if only we have faith we can turn Chicago upside down, or rather right side up.’ I thought that someday faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem to come. One day, I read the tenth chapter of Romans, ‘Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’ I had closed my Bible and prayed for faith. I now know opened my Bible and begun to study, and faith has been growing ever since.” A sound and adequate faith grows out of a sound Biblical perspective.


And for Paul, faith also had to be practical. It had to be experienced, as in the case of the first converts in Thessalonica (Acts 17:4), and it had to be lived. Faith can never remain an hypothesis, it must end as a certainty. That assurance of faith can come only when we live it out amidst the pressure and problems of life, and in the face of opposition and antagonisms, and discover that as we live for Christ we actually grow more sure of Him every day. Here, then. For the early Christians and for us lies the basis of an intelligent and triumphant faith.




“… and the love everyone of you has for each other is increasing.”


This was something else that Paul saw as a redeeming feature in the midst of all the problems the little church at Thessalonica was experiencing. There was a love in their hearts that was real; and not only was it there, it was growing. That was a healthy sign; especially that their love was not static but increasing. What kind of love was it? And why was it growing? What were the vital signs?


First, it was a love held by all, “The love everyone of you has”, Paul could say. However uncommon that love was in the ancient city of Thessalonica, it was common in the Christian church in that city. It wasn’t the possession of a few saints merely. The whole church was characterized by it. And what a boon it was. If you are facing a confused and confusing world, you need all the faith you can muster. And when you add this to a sound attitude that isn’t cynical or unduly critical, because there is a love in your heart, then you can begin to look at your own theological questions more objectively and at your rejection by others with greater understanding and self-control. Think of how influential that love must have been in that great city on the Egnation Road, where east and west converged, which received travellers and trade from both Europe and Asia. If the Christian message took root there, then it was bound to spread in both major directions. But what was one faith among so many, vying for the allegiance of the world, unless corroborated and reinforced by a love that makes people stop and take notice. Those Christians had it. Do we? What a strategic situation we hold here in Canada. We, too, have the message, but unless we have the love, will anyone stop and take notice?


Second, it was a love that was obviously cohesive. “The love everyone of you has for each other.” This love was no counterfeit. It was no general sentiment. This was a ‘love for brethren’. (1 John 3: 14). Sometimes we find the brethren not the easiest people in the world to love. That is because we discover our own faults in our brother or sister. But Jesus says: “All men will know you are my disciples if you love one another.” (John 13: 35). The key is to stand back from your feelings about fellow Christians. Pray for those you have difficulty with. Ask God to teach you something about yourself in the way you handle your dislikes of other Christians. It is this Christian affection that holds the church together, and recommends its message to the world. (John 17: 21).


Third, it was a love that derived from Christ. The love in the church at Thessalonica had its source in someone greater than even the sum of its members. It was more than mere brotherly love. It was that special love that the New Testament alone knows about (agape). Paul had taught them that it was none other than Jesus who was the Messiah. (Acts 17: 3). It was in Him they had put their trust. Then, almost automatically, His life became visible in theirs. That was hardly surprising for Jesus had said: “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.” (John 14: 12). Again, there is a specific quality about this love. It is more than a generally benevolent attitude. It is a specifically redemptive love that is concerned about a world that is on a collision course and determined to self-destruct. Such a love will not remain uninvolved.




“Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance…” The word Paul uses here is a magnificent one, that addresses a need common in the ancient world and today, namely ‘failure of nerve’. Paul’s word (Hupomonē) means ‘an heroic constancy under fire’. It is more than just ‘hanging in’. Rather, it is a creative steadfastness that employs the tools of faith and love in both enduring trials and mastering them. Paul saw this steadfastness in the little church at Thessalonica.


It was a steadfastness that stood up under external challenges. The world my challenge our faith, but we need not worry. The faith we hold is not our faith in God so much as our certainty of his saving purpose and power in our lives. It was that which secured the future of the little church at Thessalonica. It will be that which will secure our future.


It was a steadfastness that survived internal problems. Greater than any external threat is the weakness from within. ‘Stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you’, Paul encouraged them. (2 Thessalonians 2: 15). Part of our problem is that we don’t expect to grow in our formulation of the faith and we wonder why we are dissatisfied with what we believe. Theological constancy and growth are not incompatible. We are encouraged to hold the basic New Testament faith, and then to grow within that faith.


It was a steadfastness based on Christ’s steadfastness. “He will strengthen you from the evil one… May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. “ (2 Thessalonians 3: 3-5). Here, then, is the one true source of an intelligent and triumphant faith, a magnificent and sensitive love, and a determined and abiding steadfastness.


Will you pray with me?

“Heavenly Father, we are thankful for a faith that leads us into a deep understanding and obedient walk with you. We are not alone and seek to be faithful to you in every situation. Give us the joy of a growing faith, depending on you in every aspect of life and in every aspect of love. Amen.


During the 12 years of our broadcast ministry, several of you have contacted us with your words of encouragement and support. It would be encouraging to us also to hear of examples of experience in faith and growth that you may have had in your walk with the Lord. We often call this “sharing a testimony”. The church of today is often reticent in testifying to some of the experiences we have had as we have walked in the way of Christ. Would you share with us any of your powerful moments of persuasion so that we might grow in grace? Thanks.
Would you also help us meet our financial obligations? Contact us as you are able with a cheque at Box 184 Rideau Ferry, Ontario, K0G 1W0.

Dr. Allen Churchill

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