Welcome to the Mountjoy Ministries Blog

This blog was authored by Bryan W. Sheldon, author and Bible teacher. His books are listed below. The studies in the blog are offered in the desire that they may be helpful in directing readers to the truths contained in the Bible.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Christianity Considered 6

The Mercy of God

Returning to our series 'Christianity Considered' we should examine the subject, 'the mercy of God'. That God is merciful is a fundamental truth of Christianity. It is a major subject of the Bible. The lid of the ark of the covenant that was housed in the Jewish Temple was called 'the mercy seat', because it represented the throne of God which is also called a mercy-seat. There are many references to the golden lid of the ark (the mercy seat) in the Old Testament, 26 in all, mostly in Exodus (from 25.17 ff). It is the background to the text that refers to the throne of God in the book of Hebrews: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”. (Heb 4:16)

Why should we examine the subject, 'the mercy of God'. Because it will only be by the mercy of God that we will enter heaven. So we rejoice in the mercy of God, but we must make sure that we have a right understanding of it. Let’s ask some questions.

If everyone who gets into heaven, gets into heaven through the mercy of God, will everyone get into heaven?

Well, the answer to that is No! Not everyone will go to heaven. The Bible says: “And these will go away into everlasting punishment” (Mt 25:46), and again, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”. (Jn 3:18) So some will not be recipients of the mercy of God. This must mean that there are some conditions fixed to the mercy of God.

What are the conditions fixed to the mercy of God?

Well, Isaiah wrote: Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon”. (55:6,7) Here then is the first condition – mercy has to be sought. This will mean turning around, turning toward God. And the way to seek it, is to seek God. And Isaiah says, do it now!!!

Then added to that, is the fact that you have to mean business with God. Joel wrote: “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness." (Joel 2:13,14) This text again emphasises that the mercy of God is freely available, but only when you seek it wholeheartedly. God’s mercy is a city of refuge for the penitent, but by no means a sanctuary for the presumptuous. You cannot enjoy the mercy of God without asking, and asking wholeheartedly. You will not receive mercy automatically.

Why is God so serious about being merciful?
Because of the cost. The basis of mercy is justice. It is not issuing a pardon on no grounds, that is, just because God is kind. Rather, it is because He has satisfied His own righteousness by providing a worthy substitute. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us", (Eph 2:4) "… demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8) That’s why God can show mercy.

The mercy of God cannot be enjoyed without satisfying the justice of God.
The justice of God could not be satisfied without the death of Christ as our substitute.

So for an individual to enjoy the mercy of God, they have to acknowledge that Christ died for them. Paul wrote: “… the Son of God … loved me and gave Himself for me”, (Gal. 2:20) because –“God did set forth (Christ) a mercy seat” (Rom. 3:25) (Young’s literal & Darby)
More next time! Good wishes to you all!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Books by Bryan

New Book

Discipleship Considered (or Christians who make a difference)

It has been suggested that I let all you fellow bloggers know that as part of my ministry I am a published author. My latest book is on the subject of Christian discipleship. Here is a short description from the rear cover.
"The call to discipleship which was familiar to evangelicals of a past age is seldom heard today. This book places before all those who have been blessed with the salvation provided by the Son of God, the challenge of Christian living and the need to follow in the footsteps of the Master. The book asks and answers the question, ‘Why should we become disciples of Christ?’ It then examines what is entailed in discipleship. It suggests that it will require the full use of one’s abilities, energy and resources. Thus the cost may appear to be heavy, but the quality of life will be special and the rewards immense. The Lord still speaks today to those who will listen: 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him … follow me.'"
It is available from me for £6 (six UK pounds) (post and packing included).

There is companion volume with an evangelical emphasis. It is called:
Christianity Considered

‘Christianity Considered’ is a book suitable for those enquiring about the Christian faith. It has chapters on the following subjects.

1. Is the Bible trustworthy?
2. Who was Jesus?
3. Why did He die?
4. Did He really rise from the dead?
5. How did they become Christians in Bible times?
6. How can I become a Christian?

This one is available from me at a cost of £5 (five UK pounds) (post and packing included).

Other titles available.

‘The Miracles of the Messiah’

Almost two millennia ago, a group of Jewish leaders obtained the execution of a young man, Jesus of Nazareth. The death of this young Jew has had implications for the whole of humankind ever since. This book seeks to re-examine the events of those days and place them in the culture of the period. It will seek to answer the following questions:

Did Jesus of Nazareth provide evidence that He was the true Messiah of Israel? If He did, why then did they reject and execute Him?

A right understanding of this subject is necessary to be able to appreciate how one decision, taken by a relatively small number of men in a small, middle-eastern country, could have affected countless generations of people ever since.

'Miracles of the Messiah' is available from me at a cost of £8 (eight UK pounds)(post and packing included).

‘The Messiah and the Feasts of Israel’

The Feasts of the Lord were placed in the calendar of the Hebrew nation as a prophetic timetable of God’s redemptive plan. Israel, in celebrating the spring cycle of feasts was compelled to look back to their deliverance from Egyptian slavery and the giving of the Torah.

But these feasts were not only memorials of great acts of God in the past, but also finger-posts to future events when Messiah would come. For the Messiah would die a substitutionary death at Passover, be buried at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, be resurrected at the Feast of Firstfruits, and pour out the Spirit of God from His place of ascension at the Feast of Weeks.

Moreover, the prophetic timetable has not yet run its course, for the fulfilment of the autumn cycle of Feasts is still to come. The Messiah will return at a future Feast of Trumpets, judge the Jewish nation on a coming Day of Atonement, and initiate the Millennial kingdom at a Feast of Tabernacles. Let it be known that God is still the Lord of History and He is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year.

‘Surveying Scripture’

Both Testaments of the Bible fall comfortably into five blocks. ‘Surveying Scripture’ examines each block and lays out the main theme of each group. There is a section on each of the following :

The Law (Genesis to Deuteronomy) (5 books);
History (Joshua to Esther) (12 Books)
Experience (Job to Song of Songs) (5 Books);
Major Prophets (Isaiah to Daniel) (5 Books);
Minor Prophets (Hosea to Malachi) (12 books);
The Gospels (Matthew to John) (4 Books);
The Book of Acts (1 Book);
The Pauline Epistles (Romans to Hebrews) (14 Books);
The General Epistles (James to Jude) (7 Books);
The Book of Revelation (1 Book)
This one is available from Bryan at a cost of £6 (six UK pounds) (including post and packing)
Orders can be sent by email to 'bryan@bryansbiblestudy.co.uk'

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Christianity Considered 5 (Cont)

Some Notable Conversions

In our last blog we looked at the life changing experiences of an Ethiopian Statesman, a Jewish Rabbi and a Roman Centurian. This time we will look at a couple of Bible conversions of those with more humble employment. First a Non-Jewish business woman, called Lydia.

In Acts 16, there is the narrative of Lydia, a business woman who sold cloth for the making of garments. The record carries a telling remark—that the Lord opened her heart. (Acts 16.14) This allows us to remark on something that might have been overlooked. That the heart needs to be affected by the gospel, as well as the intellect. Paul said, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”. (Rom. 10:9) For it is “with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom. 10:10)

What does it mean ‘believe in your heart’?

What gets affected when you believe in your heart, as compared to just believing with your mind? We will return to the example of Saul.

His conscience was affected. He was under conviction. The Bible says it was as if he was kicking against the goads [sticks used for prodding working animals].

His understanding was affected. He realised that the Jesus he was persecuting was the risen Messiah and Son of God.

His will was affected. He yielded to Jesus and began to follow Him.
It changed his whole life - his ambitions, his character, his relationships, his whole perspective on life.

Note the connection between heart and tongue.

If we truly believe in the heart we will confess with the tongue. These last verses demonstrate the connection between heart and tongue. As the heart believes, so the tongue speaks. Those that believe in Jesus as their Saviour will confess Him before others. Look how Paul gave his testimony, even when faced with hostile crowds. (See Acts 22.3ff; 26.6ff)

The Philippian Jailer and his family.

Returning to the Acts of the Apostles, there is yet another conversion that would interest us. That of the Philippian jailer. (Acts 16) Paul and Silas, witnessing in Europe for the first time, were the victims of anti-Semitism. They were beaten and imprisoned unlawfully, yet they remained in good spirits and sang hymns while held in an inner cell. Then there occurred a small earthquake, which released their manacles and opened the prison doors. The jailer, thinking his prisoners had escaped, was prepared to commit suicide, rather than face execution for dereliction of duty, when out of the darkness the voice of Paul assured him that all the prisoners were still there. The jailer, realising the earth tremor was a divine intervention, fell down before Paul and asked, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul responded with the kernel of the Christian message, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved”. The gospel message, then, is simply the requirement for individuals to believe in the person and work of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus.

While Paul’s answer was simple and to the point, we can from our perspective and with the Scriptures available to us, suggest the following as the larger message, of which Paul’s response was the distilled essence.

Jesus is His human name, therefore we are to believe in the virgin birth and impeccable life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Christ refers to His office as Messiah, in which work He was required to die for the sins of the world. Therefore, we are to believe in His substitutionary death at Calvary.

Lord refers to His current position at the right hand of the throne of God. To be saved we need to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ.

A postscript in respect of the people of Berea.

Paul on his travels proclaimed the gospel in a place called Berea. As a result the Bereans received an honourable mention in Luke’s narrative. They are described as noble because they did not just take Paul’s word as gospel truth, but searched the Scriptures to confirm every detail. May I suggest that this be our practice, that we constantly search the Scriptures to see whether our pastors and teachers are providing us with the unadulterated Word of God. If Paul was subjected to such scrutiny and the Bible commends those that did it—how much more we. Remember, God has promised a blessing to those that read His Word.