For a number of months, we worked through books in the New Testament in these Bible readings. Then last month, we returned to the Old Testament. This month, we are going to look at significant biblical doctrines, drawn from both Old and New Testaments.
Sunday 1st April
Genesis 1: God
In any study of Christian doctrine, we must begin with God. In particular, we must begin with the first few words of the Bible: ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ God has always existed, has no beginning and no end, and created everything that exists. Later in this first chapter of the Bible, in verse 27, we are told that ‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them’. This personal God created all things but when he came to create human beings he made them in his own image. This is not said of any animal or angel or anything else, only of human beings. We have been given special status in the created order and indeed we are given responsibility for the earth to care for it (verse 28). It is also clear from Scripture that this creator God is personal. He is not a force, or a thing or an inanimate object, he is someone with whom we can have a relationship.
Pray for our Easter Communion today and the Thanksgiving service this evening. Pray too for the Easter service at Raigmore.
Monday 2nd April
Matthew 28: The Trinity
The most important thing to be said about God is that he exists in Trinity, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In Deuteronomy 6:4 we are told that there is only one God. There are not three gods, but only one. There are, however, other verses where there appears to be a plurality in the being of God, such as Genesis 1:26, 3:22 and 11:7. Then there are those passages where Father, Son and Spirit are mentioned together, as in today’s passage in verse 19. Then there are verses which show that the first Christians taught that Jesus is God, such as John 1:1-2. There are also verses which imply that the Holy Spirit is God, such as Mark 3:29, John 15:26, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. This is an extremely difficult doctrine to understand but it is fundamental to any understanding of Christianity. It is not a theological puzzle or conundrum but is the very heart and centre of all meaning and significance. Even in terms of our salvation it is vital. The Father loves us so much that he sends his Son. The Son dies for our sins. The Holy Spirit then applies what Christ has done to our lives.
Pray for the Church of Scotland. Pray that God will move by his Holy Spirit across the land and bring reformation and renewal to the Church. Pray for Covenant Fellowship Scotland as it seeks to highlight the need of the church and to motivate people in the work of reformation.
Tuesday 3rd April
Genesis 3: Sin
In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we read of God’s creation. We are told that everything was very good and that human beings were created upright and without any moral flaw. That is to say, everything was perfect. As we turn to Genesis 3, however, that picture changes dramatically. The very first verse of our chapter contains a description of a creature actively working against God and seeking to undermine confidence in him. In Genesis 3 he is simply described as the serpent but in Revelation 12:9, we find this description, ‘that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray’. The serpent in Genesis 3, then, is the devil or Satan. Satan persuades our first parents to disobey God’s clear command and the human race falls into sin. Since Adam was the representative of humanity, his sin affected all those he represented. From this point on, human beings were separated from God and born as sinners.
Pray for the Girls’ Brigade. Pray for Susan Mackenzie as she comes to the end of her time as Captain and pray for Jennifer Morrison and Sheena Fraser as they jointly take over this responsibility.
Wednesday 4th April
Ephesians 1:1-14: Election
Today’s passage teaches the doctrine of predestination. Paul tells us that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ and in verses 4-5, he describes election (or predestination) as the first and greatest of these blessings. Notice that this predestination is dependent upon Jesus Christ. We were chosen ‘in him’ (meaning ‘in Christ’). Then in verse 7, ‘in him’ we have redemption. In verse 11, ‘in him’ we were chosen. These verses teach us that our salvation from beginning to end is focussed on Christ. God chose us to be saved from before the foundation of the world but he did it ‘in Christ’. That is why in this passage there is so much emphasis on Christ. We are saved, says Paul, by his blood. Through Christ we receive the ‘forgiveness of sins’. We have been predestined to salvation but that predestination is ‘in Christ’. We might put it like this, God did not choose us for salvation without also determining the means by which this salvation would be accomplished.
Pray for the United Prayer Meeting taking place in our church tonight, with people from throughout the Presbytery. Pray that our prayers for the church will be answered.
Thursday 5th April
Hebrews 1: Revelation
This God who has chosen us for salvation, is not ‘knowable’ except by revelation. Human beings do not have the capacity to discover God, he must reveal himself. He has done this in creation and through prophets and apostles. Supremely, however, as today’s passage teaches, he has revealed himself in and through his Son. Jesus is the final revelation from God. The only one who knows God completely and exhaustively is God himself. For that reason, revelation is fundamental to Christian theology. As we learn in 2 Timothy 3 and 2 Peter 1, God also reveals himself through the Scriptures, which are ‘God-breathed’. They are the means by which God’s voice is heard. God speaks through the writers of Scripture. This is why the Scriptures are so important. They were written by men but in a supernatural way, such that what Scripture says, God says. If we want to know what God says, we turn to the Scriptures.
Pray for the Scottish Bible Society and for Elaine Duncan, its Chief Executive. Pray that the distribution of Scriptures will be used to reach many with the Gospel.
Friday 6th April
John 1: Salvation in Christ
We have seen how God created everything perfect but through disobedience, human beings became sinners. God, however, had an eternal plan to save sinners through Jesus Christ. He has chosen us ‘in Christ’ but it is only when we believe in Christ that this predestination takes effect. As we read in verses 10-13 of our passage: ‘He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God’. The way to receive salvation and to be delivered from sin, is through faith in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God.
Pray for Amy Mathieson who is to be married in our church today, asking God’s blessing on her marriage. Pray for Fergus Robertson who will be taking the service.
Saturday 7th April
John 12:20-36: The Atonement
We have said that salvation is only to be achieved through Christ but today we must ask how this was achieved. In today’s passage, Jesus says this: ‘Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father save me from this hour?” No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.’ In other words, Jesus tells us that his reason for coming to earth was to die! His death was in God’s plan from the very beginning. The very purpose of the Incarnation was the Crucifixion. Jesus was born in order to die. What did his death achieve? Jesus gives us the answer himself in those famous words from the Last Supper, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’ (Matthew 26:28). This is the key to the whole subject, the forgiveness of sins but how can the death of one man 2000 years ago bring forgiveness of sins to us today? There are many ways of answering that question but the most basic answer is that Jesus took our place and God punished him instead of punishing us.
Pray for the church multimedia team, both in the church and at the Raigmore services. Give thanks for the way in which the members of the team use their technical skills to enhance our worship.
Sunday 8th April
Romans 8:28-39: Effectual Calling
As we have seen in the past few days of these Bible readings, having chosen a people for himself, God sent his Son to die for them, giving his life as a ransom for theirs, purchasing their deliverance by his own blood. That leads on to another question: How does this salvation, which God has provided for his people through the death of Christ, become a personal reality in the lives of individual men and women? It is clearly one thing to say that God has chosen us, and Christ has died for us, but quite another thing to understand how that salvation becomes yours and mine. The first clue is in Romans 8:28-30. We must ask what the word ‘called’ means in these verses? The clear implication of these verses is that all those who are included at the beginning of verse 29 reach the end of v.30! In terms of our subject today, this means that all those who are called will be glorified. This means that when Paul speaks of those who are ‘called’ he cannot simply be referring to those who have heard the outward call of the gospel, because many of those who hear the external call of the gospel do not respond to it, and will ultimately be lost. No, it must refer to a ‘calling’ which is guaranteed to achieve its objective, namely, the glorification of those whom God has chosen. We can say that the ‘call’ in Romans 8:30, is an effectual call, a call which always and unmistakably achieves its purpose.
Pray for the Minister as he takes morning and evening services today, for Bill Flett as he takes the Raigmore service and the Rev D.A. Maclennan, as he takes the Gaelic service.
Monday 9th April
John 3:1-21: The New Birth
In our passage today, Jesus said this, ‘no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again’. The message of Jesus, then, is that unless we are born again we shall not see the Kingdom of God. This is the doctrine of regeneration or new birth. When Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again, what did he mean? It is clear from the Scriptures what he was not saying. He was not saying that Nicodemus had to improve his life, or turn over a new leaf or make some resolutions for future conduct, or make a few minor changes to his lifestyle. Jesus was saying that Nicodemus needed a radical change, a completely new beginning, the kind of change that can only come about by an act of God. The way in which this change takes place is more fully described in Titus 3:3-7. As Paul explains to Titus, being born again is not a reward for good behaviour. Paul insists that it is ‘not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy’ (verse 5). Regeneration takes place because of God’s love and mercy. We do not deserve it and we cannot earn the right to it. We are totally dependent upon God for it. The new birth is solely the work of God.
Pray for the Minister as he participates in a Council of Assembly meeting in Edinburgh today, the last meeting before the General Assembly. Pray for wisdom.
Tuesday 10th April
Romans 3:21-31: Justification
In this passage, Paul spells out that the only way of salvation, the only way to receive forgiveness for sins, is by faith in Jesus Christ. In the earlier chapters of Romans, he has demonstrated that neither Jews obeying the Mosaic Law, nor Gentiles following their consciences and the light of nature, could be justified in God’s sight by obedience. Now in the verses we read today he explains that justification is only possible by the grace and mercy of God acting to forgive and accept us. Justification is a legal word, taken from the language of the courtroom. It means to be declared righteous. In biblical terms, we can say that it is an act of God’s free grace whereby he pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous in his sight. This was the doctrine which helped to bring about the Reformation in the 16th Century, as Martin Luther rediscovered this truth expressed in Romans (and in Galatians).
Pray for the Presbytery of Inverness and all its committees. Pray for a good spirit of co-operation and fellowship and pray that the work will be done efficiently and well, bringing glory to God.
Wednesday 11th April
2 Corinthians 5:14-21: Justification (2)
We continue the theme of justification today with one issue in mind. Yesterday we saw that the heart of justification is God declaring us to be righteous. That raises a question: how can a righteous and holy God declare sinners such as we are to be righteous? The answer is that we become righteous through a great exchange. Christ takes our sin and, in exchange, he gives us his righteousness. We see this in the final verses of today’s Bible reading, 2 Corinthians 5:21: ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’. God declares us to be righteous, because we are righteous. This is not a righteousness of our own, it is the righteousness of Christ which we receive as a gift. As the older writers would say, we are ‘clothed in the righteousness of Christ’.
Pray for the two prayer meetings today (1pm and 7.30pm) and pray that many people will attend one or the other. Pray that greater commitment to prayer will be evident in our fellowship throughout this year.
Thursday 12th April
Romans 5:1-11: Reconciliation
In the first two verses of today’s passage, Paul says, ‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God’. The events of Genesis 3 led to a separation between God and human beings. In verse 15 of that Genesis story, God promised that someone would come to deal with Satan. In the coming of Jesus Christ, that promise was fulfilled. Now, if we are justified, we have peace with God, the barrier has been broken down and, as our passage says, we have access to God. Later in our passage, this is called reconciliation. Notice verse 11 where Paul says that we ‘rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation’.
Pray for the Senior Citizens’ lunch in the Raigmore Community Centre and pray that the Gospel message will be heard, understood and received.
Friday 13th April
Romans 5:12-21: Adam and Christ
As we saw yesterday, the first part of Romans 5 describes the benefits that justification brings. We have peace with God and access to God. In other words, we are reconciled to God. In the second part of the chapter, Paul goes on to explain the means by which this was achieved. I believe these verses to be among the most important in the Bible. Adam was told by God that if he sinned he would die, with the corresponding notion that if he obeyed he would live. This promise was not given to Adam as an individual but as the representative of humanity. When Adam sinned, his guilt and sin were ‘imputed’ to all those he represented. When Christ came as the ‘last Adam’ or ‘second man’ (1 Corinthians 15:45-49) he was also a representative. He represented all those who would have faith in him. Where Adam failed, he succeeded through his perfect obedience and so all those who are ‘in Adam’ will die but all those who are ‘in Christ’ will be made alive.
Pray for the Ministers of the Church of Scotland. With over 200 vacancies, many are carrying a heavy burden. Pray too for those who are ill, those who are suffering from stress-related illness and those who have lost heart in the midst of difficult days.
Saturday 14th April
1 John 3:1-10: Adoption
One of the most important doctrines of the Christian faith, and one which is seldom discussed in any detail, is the doctrine of adoption. The Bible tells us that, when we become Christians, God adopts us into his family. When we think of adoption the picture which probably comes to mind is that of an orphaned child being taken into a family. The biblical picture of adoption includes that idea but is much deeper and wider. In the Bible, adoption is the climax of a process whereby God changes an unbeliever into a believer, a sinner into a saint. The process begins with the new birth. When that takes place, the gift of faith is given. That faith when exercised leads to justification (pardon and acceptance). Then comes adoption. Taken on its own, justification is a legal concept and might sound cold or remote, but adoption, as the completion of the process, puts that right. It is the great wonder of the Christian gospel that we should not only be forgiven but actually taken into the very family of God. The first verse of our passage encapsulates the whole theme: ‘How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’ This passage testifies to the love and grace of God in adoption. Adoption is not something we deserved, it is all of grace. We can also see this doctrine of adoption in John 1:11-13 and in Romans 8:12-17.
Pray for our former Probationers: Scott and Heather McRoberts, Ross and Irene Macaskill, Dougie and Joan Wolf and their families.
Sunday 15th April
Romans 8:1-17: Adoption (2)
In verse 14 of today’s passage we read that ‘those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God’. In other words, only those who have the Spirit of God in them are the children of God. There is a broad sense in which we can speak of God as being the Father of everyone whom he has created, but when the Bible speaks of the ‘children of God’ it is normally referring to believers. There is a myth which is popular today to the effect that we are all God’s children and that we will all be saved in the end but this is not what the Bible teaches. If we have not been adopted into his family, then we do not belong to God and we are not his children. We are not children of God by nature, only by grace. The relationship between God and his children is a relationship effected by a supernatural, sovereign act of grace. Note two further supporting points in this passage. First, it is the presence of the Spirit which enables us to address God as Father; and second, as children of God we are ‘heirs’ and the inheritance is an eternity in heaven.
Pray for the services today. The Minister is taking morning and evening services and Iain Macdonald is taking the Raigmore service.
Monday 16th April
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8: Sanctification
For the past few days, we have been concentrating on those doctrines which describe how someone becomes a Christian: effectual calling, regeneration, justification and adoption. Over the next few days we shall be concentrating on those doctrines which deal with the period after someone has become a Christian. In other words, we shall be looking at the life of the believer. Today we begin by thinking about the doctrine of sanctification. Today’s passage has a striking statement by Paul in verse 3: ‘It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…’ In Titus 2:11-14 Paul says that the salvation which comes by the grace of God ought to have certain results in the life of the believer. In particular it enables the newly born Christian ‘to say, “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives’. Paul then goes even further and says that the whole purpose of Jesus Christ in dying upon the cross was ‘to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good’. In the beginning, when God created our first parents, Adam and Eve, they were holy and without sin. As we have seen, that changed with the entrance of sin and disobedience into the world as recorded in Genesis 3. Ever since then, God’s plan has been to restore that original situation, to create once again a people who would live holy lives in obedience to his will. To that end, he sanctifies us by the Holy Spirit.
Pray for the Scottish Evangelical Theology Society conference today in Glasgow. The Minister is President of the Society and will be attending.
Tuesday 17th April
1 Corinthians 1:1-9: Definitive Sanctification
As we saw yesterday, the transformation which begins to take place when we are justified is called sanctification (being made holy). This is a long, slow process and the Holy Spirit is working in us from the moment we are born again until the moment we die in order to make us holy. This process will never be finished, because we shall never be perfectly holy in this life, never completely without sin. This becoming holy is a process in contrast to justification which is an instantaneous act of God. Yet this is not the whole story, because something of the work of making us holy is accomplished by the Spirit of God as soon as we are born again. The theologians have used different words to describe this but more recently, among evangelical theologians, it has been called ‘definitive sanctification’. We can see this in various parts of the Bible. For example, in the passage we read from 1 Corinthians 1, Paul describes in verse 2 the people to whom he is writing as ‘those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy’. Some of the work of making them holy was done instantaneously when they became Christians, but the remainder would be accomplished more slowly, by means of an ongoing process.
Pray for the Minister as he speaks at the AGM of the Presbyterial Guild this evening.
Wednesday 18th April
Romans 7:15-25: Progressive Sanctification
The other aspect of the work of sanctification in the life of the Christian is called ‘progressive sanctification’. This is the work of the Holy Spirit by which, over many years, an individual is gradually changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ and becomes more holy and more righteous. This process can be long and painful. There are many sins, and many patterns of ingrained sinful behaviour which require to be broken and changed, and are only dealt with over a long period. Paul understood this perfectly and in Romans 7:15-25 he opens his heart in an honest statement of this truth, particularly in verse 19: ‘For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing’. Surely all of us who are Christians could testify to that experience? Progressive sanctification is a process of change in which there must be honesty and admission of guilt and failure. John says, ‘If we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:8,9). In other words, we must recognise that we are sinners who are in the process of becoming holy. We get a good start because of the definitive sanctification which the Holy Spirit effects in us when we are born again, but the remainder of that work goes on slowly and painfully until we go to heaven to be with God.
Pray for the School Assembly at Raigmore this morning. Pray too that both Prayer Meetings will be well attended.
Thursday 19th April
Luke 19:1-10: Repentance
In our studies in Christian doctrine, we come today to the doctrine of repentance. Now on the one hand this doctrine is very straightforward. The Greek word ‘metanoia’ from which we get our English word ‘repentance’ simply means to turn around and move in a new direction. We might say that it means to turn away from sin and turn back to God. On the other hand, however, this doctrine is quite difficult and has been the subject of many theological controversies. Perhaps the best way to deal with the subject is to consider the story of Zacchaeus in today’s passage. Zacchaeus had been one of those who desired riches in life but his encounter with Jesus changed all of that. When Jesus met with Zacchaeus his life was transformed and getting more and more money was no longer the driving force in his life. The Spirit of God came into Zacchaeus’ life and changed him and the result was repentance. He turned away from his former way of life and he turned to God. He showed his repentance by giving much of his money away. To turn from a sinful self-centred life to a new God-centred life is the heart of the meaning of repentance.
Pray for the Gathering this morning, asking that it will be a blessed time of fellowship. Pray too for the Kirk Session meeting this evening.
Friday 20th April
Mark 1:1-15: Repentance (2)
There is one further point to be made in respect of repentance, namely, that it is essential for salvation. This doctrine was at the centre of Jesus’ preaching when he began his ministry. As we read in Mark 1:14-15, ‘After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”’ When Paul was saying his farewell to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:20-21, he said this: ‘You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.’ From these verses we can say that repentance is essential for salvation.
Pray for Bob Matheson and the Open Doors team today, as the church is open for people to see the church, enjoy refreshments and chat to the team.
Saturday 21st April
Acts 11:1-18: Repentance (3)
We have one unresolved question concerning repentance.
Do you repent in order to receive God’s forgiveness, or does God forgive you before you repent? Is repentance a condition of grace or is grace unconditional? What is the relationship between repentance and conversion or between repentance and justification? How can someone who is ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ (Ephesians 2:1) repent? In answering this question, the key issue is the relationship between faith and repentance. It is interesting that the Westminster Confession of Faith deals with repentance after dealing with salvation. Why? Because if someone could repent and turn back to God without first coming to Christ, then why did Christ die? In other words, if we as human beings can turn away from our sin and turn back to God in our own strength, then why do we need the gospel? The truth is that repentance, like every other aspect of our salvation, is a free gift of a gracious God. That is what we see in verse 18 of our passage: ‘So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life’. We do not repent as if that were our contribution to salvation, rather God enables us to repent as part of his sovereign work of grace in our lives.
Pray for the Macdonalds in Zambia, especially remembering Christine’s health issues and her various meetings with doctors in the UK and South Africa.
Sunday 22nd April
1 John 5:13-21: Assurance
Our subject today is Assurance. In other words, the means whereby God assures us that we are indeed his children, saved by his grace. For many Christians, this is a very difficult subject because many Christians doubt their salvation. There can be a number of reasons for this. Perhaps they have not had the kind of ‘crisis experience’ that they hear of in some testimonies, perhaps they struggle with prevailing sin in their lives, perhaps they do not feel ‘good enough’ or some other reason. Today we shall see from the Scriptures that we can have assurance and ought to have assurance. In today’s passage, at verse 13, we read this: ‘I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.’ What could be clearer? John’s very purpose in writing is to bring assurance to these believers. Or what about Romans 8:1-2: ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.’ Notice that teaching: there is no condemnation for the Christian! We must take that seriously. In verses 15-16 of the same Paul tells us that God’s Spirit, by an inner testimony, assures us that we are the children of God.
Pray for the services today. The Minister is taking the morning and evening services and Alex Stephen is taking the Raigmore service.
Monday 23rd April
John 13:33-35: Assurance and Holiness
Holiness is also a means towards assurance. There is a certain element of assurance in saving faith itself: if we did not believe that God was willing to save us we would not come to him. There is also assurance by what the theologians call the ‘reflex act’, namely, that assurance which is to be had by observing the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and witnessing the changes which he makes. As we grow in grace and holiness and as God changes us more and more into the image of Christ, so our assurance deepens. We should compare and contrast what we were like before we came to Christ and what we have become in Christ Jesus. We are still well aware of how far we have yet to go, but our assurance deepens as we see God at work in our lives. What is more, others can see God at work in our lives. Did not Jesus say, ‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another’ (John 13:35)? Holiness is evidence of the work of the Spirit of God, and that evidence helps to bring assurance.
Pray for the sick and housebound members and adherents in the congregation. Pray too for their carers and families. Pray that, even when unable to come to church, they might find comfort in the Scriptures and in prayer.
Tuesday 24th April
Romans 8:28-39: Perseverance of the Saints
In our passage, Paul teaches that nothing in all the world (or even beyond the world) can prevent the safe arrival of the believer in heaven. A Christian is one who has the sure and certain hope of glory. This is what the theologians call the doctrine of the ‘perseverance of the saints’, although it should really be called the ‘preservation of the saints’, since it has nothing to do with our persevering and everything to do with God’s grace. This doctrine is the necessary conclusion of all the other doctrines and indeed is the climax of those other doctrines. Everything which God does in terms of new birth, justification, sanctification and so on is designed to lead to one objective, namely, the day when we shall be in the presence of God forever. Based on the teaching of Scripture and building on the heritage of Calvin and Knox, the Reformed Christian can say with absolute assurance that ‘once saved, always saved’. Only if we see salvation as entirely a work of God’s grace from beginning to end can we be sure of our eternal salvation.
Pray for the Word at One service at lunchtime today. Pray too for the Girls’ Brigade annual display and awards night this evening.
Wednesday 25th April
1 Corinthians 15:1-20: The Resurrection
Before speaking tomorrow about the resurrection of the believer we must first point out the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ because without Christ’s resurrection, no human being would experience resurrection. Indeed, without the resurrection there would be no Christianity at all. As Paul says in today’s passage, at verse 14: ‘if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.’ A few verses later he adds, ‘if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.’ There it is in a nutshell, if there was no resurrection, our faith is meaningless, preaching is meaningless and our sins have not been forgiven. As Paul says in Romans 4:25, ‘He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.’ The purpose of the resurrection was our justification.
Pray for Fraser and Dawn Jackson working in South Africa and also Neil and Rachel Rae in the Philippines.
Thursday 26th April
1 John 2:1-6: Ascension & Intercession
After Christ was raised from the dead, he ascended to the right hand of the Father. The Scripture teaches us that the ascended Christ is now interceding for us. We see that taught in Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25 and 1 John 2:1. In today’s passage, John is teaching that Christians should not sin. Nevertheless, he assures us that if we do sin, we have someone who speaks to the Father on our behalf. On what basis can he speak to the father? Because he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. How wonderfully John presents Christ to us. He is very concerned that we should not sin but yet there is hope for the sinner. We have an advocate, one who speaks to the Father in our defence, and who does so with authority because he has come from the Father. This passage is teaching us, then, that Jesus Christ is able to intercede for us before the throne of God because he has paid the penalty for our sins.
Pray for the Minister as he chairs a two day meeting of the Theological Commission of the World Reformed Fellowship in Washington.
Friday 27th April
Matthew 24:37-51: The Second Coming
The New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus Christ will return to this earth one day. Take time to look up the following passages: Matthew 13:40-42; Mark 13:26; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 3:20; 10:42; 17:31; 1 Corinthians 15:23ff.; 1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 5:11; Hebrews 9:28; James 5:7; 2 Peter 3:8-13; and 1 John 3:2ff.. In these passages certain aspects of this second coming are described. For example, in today’s passage, we are told that Christ’s second coming will be sudden and unexpected. It will mark the end of time as we know it (1 Corinthians 15:24). It will also usher in the day of Judgement, as we shall see on Sunday.
Pray for Sheila Murray and the work of the church office. Pray too for all those who assist in various ways in the day to day work of cleaning and maintaining the church.
Saturday 28th April
1 Corinthians 15:35-58: Bodily Resurrection
Many Christians do not follow biblical teaching on this matter. I have met Christians who believe that, when we die, our souls continue to exist but our bodies are finished. They rot in the grave and return to dust and that is the end of them. That is not the teaching of Scripture. The Christian faith teaches the resurrection of the body. As the Apostles Creed says, ‘I believe… in the resurrection of the body’. In today’s passage Paul spells out in some detail his understanding of the resurrection of the body. This doctrine is summarised in the Shorter Catechism, question Q.37 : What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death? A: The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.
Pray for those who have been bereaved in the past few months and who continue to feel the deep pain of separation and loneliness.
Sunday 29th April
Matthew 25:31-46: The Day of Judgement
In Hebrews 9:27-28, we read this: ‘Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him’. This judgement, then, will accompany the coming of Christ and today’s passage explains the basis on which judgement will be carried out. There are three other points that the Scriptures make about this Day of Judgement. First, the judging will be done through Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31). Second, all will be judged, even Christians (2 Corinthians 5:10) but we have no fear (Romans 8:1). Third, there will be reward and loss, that is to say, the value of Christian service will be judged (1 Cor. 3:10-15).
Pray for the Minister, in his capacity as Moderator of the Presbytery, who will be preaching in the Barn Church today. Pray for the Rev D.A. Maclennan who will be taking the morning service, Donald MacVicar who will be taking the Raigmore service and the Minister as he takes the evening service.
Monday 30th April
Revelation 21:1-5: Renewal of all Things
Sometimes people think that after death they will be like angels in the presence of God for eternity. That is not what Scripture teaches. As our passage indicates, there is to be a new heaven and a new earth. We might say that God is going to sweep away this sinful earthly existence and re-create everything as he originally intended. This idea of a new universe is first seen in Isaiah 65:17: ‘Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind’. It is also there in Isaiah 66. In the New Testament we find this teaching in 2 Peter 3:10-13. A comparison of the first few chapters of Genesis and the last few chapters of Revelation also indicate that Paradise will be restored! What awaits us on that day? The answer is in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit’.
Pray for the Highland Theological College, asking that staff and students will find blessing in their teaching and learning. Pray for Hector Morrison in his leadership of the College and also for his participation in the wider work of the University of the Highlands and Islands.