Dick Lucas on Jeremiah 13

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This past Sunday Dick Lucas preached for me at IPC. He comes and does 2 Sundays every year and it's a delight. There's always a fear in the back of my mind in inviting him. The worry is: has he lost it! The man is 85. He's been an all time great and has been used as a preacher to bring 100's to faith. I build him up to our young folk and so it is a delight to report he's not lost it in any way, shape or form.

 

He preached as well as I can remember on a sweltering Sunday night on Jeremiah 13. If you look through the tape library of St Helens, Dick didn't spend an enormous amount of time in the Old Testament, so I was slightly nervous of Sunday night, but I shouldn't have been. I think I can safely say he blew the doors off by simply opening up the Bible and applying it (of course preaching is much more than that, and this was, but there is a glorious simplicity to how Dick handles the bible). One of our young guys said to me afterward it made me want to preach.

 

The previous week he had preached at St George's Tron on the same passage and although the sermon is slightly different it is really well worth listening to. If you email our church administrator she could send you a recording of him at ours. There is something prophetic about this sermon.

 

These are my sketchy notes that I frantically wrote down but they don't do it justice:

 

Jeremiah 13

Introduction - 3 things about Jeremiah

i.                     A man of sorrows - like our Lord. Lived at the end of the time of the existence of Judah and Israel; the whole of the people of God - 600bc, days of apostasy and weak kings. Battled with compromisers, cowards, complacency. Read last chapters of 2 Kings - not even Ralph Davis can make it anything but a miserable read, exile of Judah and end of Jerusalem

ii.                   A man of courage - Winston Churchill-esque, the authorities tried to silence him

iii.                  A man of sober hope - an action prophet, he did very peculiar things, but God told him to buy a field when they were about to be deported, one day this field will be yours.

That note of hope comes in ch29:10 - often misapplied. He gave them hope of a return from exile after 70 years.

 

Act 1 - v1,2 - Go and buy a linen belt

Act 2 - v3,4,5 - Take the belt, bury it, in the rocks, strange and odd

Act 3 - v6,7 - Get the belt and dig it up but now it is ruined and completely useless

 

What on earth does it mean? V8-11 God gives an explanation

1.       The responsibility of the visible church

The whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, together they make up of the people of God. The people God has chosen, we call it the church.

The pictures of the privilege and responsibility of the church to the God who called them into being

'he wrapped himself round this people like a belt' - analogies to this -  a baby in a sling, tourists money belt hidden under their shirt. Something very close which is precious and clasping it to yourself.

This lovely pic speaks of the closeness and intimacy of the visible church to God. God takes the church, pulls it close to himself; it is precious to him.

What is the purpose of the visible church on earth?

End of v11 - not a perfect church, a mixed church but they are.......to be my people for my renown and praise and honour.

No other institution is ordained to do that, not the government. No other group of people  with the purpose of bringing renown and praise and honour to God the father and his son Jesus Christ.

The purpose of the church in the OT and the NT is to bring to God the renown, the honour, the glory he deserves

The church is the only people who can do that and are called to do that.

The visible church of God is the prime instrument he uses to carry through his purposes of exalting the Lord Jesus and showing his renown and praise and honour. The church is at the centre of God's purposes to exalt Christ.

This was the responsibility of the people in the Old Testament and they did not carry it out so it all came to ruin.

A very stark contrast - a great responsibility and it must be carried out by the church, not by anyone else, and in the end if the church does not do what God has ordained it to do he will remove it.

Cf churches in Revelation.

2.       The ruin of the visible church v8,9,10

If the church does not fulfil it's responsibility it will ultimately come to ruin and that is precisely what is happening in the UK.

What are the marks of a church that is beginning to be ruined and is completely useless

i). Diminished authority - nobody listens to them, look at Radio Two's thought for the day - often rubbish

ii). Redundant buildings

iii). Empty pews

iv). Financial insolvency

v). Drying up of men for the ministry

vi). Loss of morale throughout the church

vii). Loss of standards in belief and behaviour

The ultimate sign of ruin -v10 - they will go after other gods and serve and worship them.

The church which is meant to bring honour and glory to God goes after other gods, the gods of the world around them, materialism, political correctness.

A tragic descent from the marvellous responsibilities that God gives the church to the ruin described here.

How does it come about?

V9 - there is pride, great pride amongst some of the older protestant denominations who seem quite unaware of the catastrophe that is coming to them.

V10 - wickedness

Stubbornness in the heart

Idolatry but the thing that is at the root of it all -It is said twice

Because v10 They refuse to listen to my word.

How can a great church come to the situations that we are seeing? The simple answer -  they refuse to listen.

For the church to refuse to listen to God is like a ship without a compass.

Quote from Peter Jensen at the opening of the new building for Moore college - 3 strands of Christianity that don't listen to God -  'There are ecclesiastical versions  of Christianity in which the church and its sacramental system intruded between the person and God with the result that the Bible was supplemented. (That is the high catholic version of Christianity which makes the sacramental system the centre of everything The Bible is supplemented and the sacramental system takes its place). There are rationalistic versions of Christianity in which human reason became the norm for talking about God with the result that the Bible is diminished.Third, there was the experiential version in which the human spirit was thought to relate in revelation to God's Spirit with the result that the bible was bypassed.

There is the Catholic, the Liberal and the extreme Charismatic versions of Christianity in which the Bible is supplemented, diminished and bypassed.

Is it any wonder that what Jeremiah had to put up with in his day is happening to many versions of Christianity in the west and you could sum it all up with this phrase in v10 - they refuse to listen my words.

Posted June 28, 2011 @ 4:34 AM by Paul Levy
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