The Complications of Compromise

The church at Pergamum were struggling to hold on to their orthodox Christian faith whilst living in a city that was famous for its multiplicity of religious options. Rather than religious pluralism leading to tolerance and acceptance, these Christians were singled out for mistreatment by the majority non-Christian society.

Some in the church paid for this with their lives. However some in the church found other ways to deal with the opposition-by compromise.

Jesus commended those in the church that were remaining faithful to him and yet gave a strong warning to the small number who were trying to mix their Christian faith and the value system of their non-Christian majority culture.

Rather than single individuals out, Christ called on the entire local church to repent and deal with this potentially lethal compromise.

As members of the modern day church living in a predominantly non-Christian (or post-Christian) society we are susceptible to the subtle yet pervasive pressures to conform to the majority views and practices of our city.

As with each message to the churches of Asia Minor, Christ promises grace to respond and overcome these modern challenges to the faithfulness and expression of the Christian faith.

Main text: Revelation 2:12-17

How Christianity Answers Our Suffering

To those suffering and going through hardships, Jesus says, ‘Do not fear.’ But on what ground can this statement actually stand if it is to help us? How can it be a source of real strength and encouragement rather than being a bit of meaningless good advice?

In this sermon we examine Christ’s message to the suffering Christians in the church of Smyrna and the interpretative framework that he gives to those who are being persecuted.

In our contemporary setting, we live among a predominantly secular worldview, the assumption that there is no higher power, that this life is all there is, and our life’s purpose is simply to take what we can from our time on earth and pass something on to the next generation if possible. However this worldview cannot provide a satisfactory answer to the brute fact of human suffering.

However Jesus speaks to the church to give them an alternate view of reality – a worldview that is constructed around the Christian gospel – that Christ himself suffered and died on a cross and rose to life on the third day. A Christian worldview with the gospel at the centre flows out to meet every facet of human knowledge and experience, including human suffering. We see in this gospel-centred framework deep resources available in our suffering as well as the hope of a future free of suffering and sadness.

Main passage: Revelation 2:8-11


Love has left the building

The church at Ephesus is a busy church, getting on with lots of ministry and standing up for the truth. They may have expected nothing but commendation from Jesus as he spoke to the seven churches of Asia Minor, but a shock was in store – the very existence of the church was in doubt.

What could possibly be wrong with a church that is doing so much activity? The answer is that they have lost their first love, abandoning the initial reason they engaged in loving, Christ-honouring service in the first place.

The message to the church at Ephesus is very relevant for us today: there are many churches who are externally very active but yet love has all but drained out of the church – and this can be sensed by all who are in contact with the church.

How can we prevent becoming a loveless church? Or how do we respond if we recognise some of the Ephesian spirit in ourselves? This message seeks to answer such questions.

Main passage: Revelation 2:1-7

He is there and he is not silent

Why is there something rather than nothing? In other words, why is there existence rather than non-existence? This is the basic philosophical question facing all humankind according to playwright and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. The answer that we provide to this question is more than conceptual – it will necessarily shape our lives, our ethics, our morality and our society.

In the Bible we see a God who not only exists but who also speaks: as Francis Schaeffer wrote, ‘he is there and he is not silent.’ God makes himself known and knowable through revelation, the revealing of knowledge of him that we would not otherwise have.

In the biblical book called Revelation, we are presented with the God who speaks and reveals himself; reveals his sovereignty, his presence with his people and the liberation of his people through the gospel.

This is all spoken to a group of churches in Asia Minor (part of the Roman Empire) who were soon to be facing opposition because of their Christian faith. They needed to know that God is there and he is not silent.

This message is crucial for the church of today, as objective truth is progressively undermined by our culture, and as increasing opposition to the historic Christian faith is experienced.

Main bible text: Revelation 1:1-20

Main points:

  • God is a God who speaks
  • God is a God who rules
  • God is a God who communes
  • God is a God who liberates

Discovering Joy in Contentment

In the final message in our series through Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we look at contentment, an under-rated and yet desperately needed virtue, especially in our contemporary world where contentment is hard to come by.

Main Bible text: Philippians 4:10-20

Main sermon points:

  • The shape of contentment
  • The effects of contentment
  • The source of contentment

The Substance of the Christian Life

In the eight message in our series through Paul’s letter to the Philippian church, we see Paul’s description of the substance of the Christian life. Paul had to be crystal clear on what the Christian life is all about because it was coming under attack from a group who masqueraded as Christians but their lives demonstrated they were anything but.

Main points:

  • The substance of the Christian life
  • The parody of the Christian life
  • The outcome of the Christian life

Bible passage: Philippians 3:12-21

Two Keys For Impacting the City

In the fifth sermon in this series, we look at the two keys Paul gives the Philippian church to impact their city. Therefore if we want to impact Belfast with the gospel of Jesus Christ, we need to understand and use the same two keys that Paul lays down.

The two keys to impacting the city:

  1. Gospel Transformation (using the tools of the Word and prayer)
  2. Gospel Integration

Main bible text: Philippians 2:12-18