To know who you are you need to know where you have come from. That is true whoever you are - whether you are a Christian or not. Genesis, the first book of the Bible, provides the answers - whether you are a Christian or not. It was written for Israel, God's people, to teach them about their forefather Abraham, and the promise God made him to fix the whole world through his family. For Christians, then, it's about our family history. Chapters 1-11 are about what came even before that: why this special family was needed in the first place. How God made the world, his plans for it, and the disaster of human sin which engulfed mankind and led to the sorry world we all know so well. So Genesis teaches us who we really are, and how much we need God's plan to send his Son, Jesus Christ, to rescue us.
When Jesus rose from the dead, after being crucified two days before, the effect on the world was dramatic: within weeks thousands of people had experienced a complete revolution in their lives and their understanding of the world, a number which grew to hundreds of thousands within a few years and millions not long after that. But today, many people struggle to see what all the fuss is about. Over the Easter period, We'll be looking at the Easter account in Mark's gospel to see what happened at Easter, why it matters so much, and why its significance will never go away.
Our recent venue move has disrupted our service recordings, with the result that so far only one of these sermons (28th March) has been recorded properly, and the sound quality on that one is a little poor. We apologise for this and will aim to record future sermons properly. Please bear with us.
On 18th April we started a new series of sermons on the beginning of the Christian Church as we know it, from the first six chapters of the book of 'the Acts of the Apostles'. At least that's what it's normally known as, but according to Luke (the author's) own description it's really 'the continuing Acts of Jesus'. What he did in his earthly life, death and resurrection was what the world - including us - needed to be saved from evil. But it was once he had returned to heaven that the work of implementing God's plan really got started, as Jesus began to call people from all over the world to join his church. So we're going to be looking at all that Jesus started doing back then, in the years 30-40AD, and is still doing today - and what God's creation will look like when it is all finished.
Many people assume that the basic religious question is whether or not we 'believe in God'. But the Bible hardly ever puts it like that. Rather, it assumes that everyone worships some god or other - the question is, which god? The gods of different religions - ancient and modern - are all different, which explains the radical differences between the way different people see the world. What is more, such different gods cannot all exist side by side.
Christianity started because those who knew Jesus Christ found that, in this man, they had met the one true God, who has revealed himself to us once and for all. Christians are therefore uniquely able to speak about what God is like; not because they are superior to other people, but because in Jesus God himself has made himself known. And so knowing God - personally, through Jesus, is at the heart of what is so great about being a Christian.
The aim of this series of sermons is for us to get to know our God better by looking at some key aspects of who he is.
At the heart of the Christian gospel is the fact that God is kind to people not because they deserve it but because he is merciful. His willingness to treat wicked people as if they were righteous - his 'Grace' - is at the same time the most basic, the most misunderstood, the most reviled, and the most glorious of all of Jesus teachings. We are going to be spending four weeks looking at grace and learning why it is so foundational to a Christian's life.
The book of Psalms is the collection of songs found in the middle of the Bible which have been at the centre of how God's people have worshipped him for three thousand years. Even more importantly, they have been at the centre of how they have understood Jesus, as God's chosen king who has come to occupy his throne through terrible suffering, dying, and being raised to life. Over six weeks we will be looking at examples of the very different types of songs the Psalms contain, and seeing what these ancient songs have to teach us about God, about the King who is also his Son, and about how we should relate to him today.
(Apologies that the first two sermons in this series, on Psalms 1 and 2, failed to record.)
A millenium before Jesus' Birth, things looked very bleak indeed for the nation God had chosen to be his. Far from being a beacon to the world of the privileges of knowing and being saved by the one true God, they had largely abandoned him for the paganism of the surrounding nations, their society was disintegrating into violence and anarchy, and they were being savagely oppressed by their neighbours.
Into this atrocious situation the book of 1 Samuel introduces us to a distraught and desperate woman, and shortly afterwards to her miracle baby. And it turns out that God does have a plan... despite everything that has happened, God's ancient covenant with Abraham, and his promise to bless the whole world through him, is not about to be forgotten.
1&2 Samuel are among the most engaging, exciting and readable parts of the Bible. We'll be spending 6 weeks looking at the first 15 chapters.
We live in a world where the Christian gospel, and the Christian church, is seen as strange, narrow-minded, irrelevant, and even dangerous. Which is remarkably similar to the culture in the important port city of Corinth in the first century AD. Despite that, A church was started there early on in the spread of Christianity - and a couple of years later the man whose preaching had started it, the Apostle Paul, wrote them a letter. While the Church at Corinth shared in the immense privileges of being Christians, nevertheless they were in many ways more influenced by Corinth than by Christ. And for the people for whom Christ died on a cross, that, says Paul, will never do. This letter spells out how, and why, the crucified and risen Son of God is an infinitely better master and guide than the cultures they, and we, live in.
On 27th March we started a new sermon series on Jesus' encounters with people sceptical about the claims he was making, in the middle part of John's gospel. The remarkable thing about the kind of things they were asking him and accusing him of is that they are remarkably similar to what people tend to say about him, and about Christianity, today.
What does it mean to be a human being? We have incredible minds, but are capable of incredible stupidity; a strong sense of right and wrong, but capable of terrible evil. This series looks at the Bible's unique understanding of what a human being is, and how that is essential if we are going to think rightly about ourselves, about our lives, and about God. And at the same time we'll find that we can't think rightly about ourselves without thinking rightly about God, as he has revealed himself in Jesus.
800BC: One thousand years after God promised Abraham that through his descendants he would bless the whole world, Israel is a disaster. Not only shockingly wicked herself, but politically pathetic and facing annihilation at the hands of invaders. How can this nation be any help to anyone? And where should she turn to save herself?
Isaiah 24-27 summarises God's plan which makes sense of all this. He will not be beaten by the wickedness of human beings; he will make his world what he designed it to be. But it will take both disastrous judgment on the world, and God's own action to rescue and multiply his people, to bring it about. There is a day coming when somehow, in Jerusalem, God will destroy death forever and lay a banquet for people from all over the world. It was 800 years in the future for Isaiah... but of course God kept his promise.
These chapters are intensely relevant to us as we face normal life in a world of terrible disappointment and evil. Isaiah wants to point us to what God has done in Jesus Christ, and will do when he returns - to judge, and to save, for ever.
The crucifixion of Jesus is central to Christianity. Christians believe it (with his resurrection, three days later) is the central event of all of world history. Why? The answer is because Jesus taught that it was, both before and after it happened.
The first half of John's gospel focuses on the signs Jesus did to demonstrate who he was - God's Son who had been sent into the world by his Father. The second half focuses on his death and its meaning. Chapter 12 is the pivot between the two; where Jesus states with absolute clarity that his coming death is the thing he came to do, which is the thing which will (and the only thing which could) save the world from coming disaster.
Over the summer we'll be looking in our Sunday Services at some key people in the Bible who, although they lived long before Jesus, were used by God to show in various ways what Jesus would be like, and what he would come to do. If you've ever found parts of the Bible and its ancient stories puzzling - come and hear how relevant it still is for us, because of what it tells us about Christ.
We start Autumn 2011 with a series of sermons on the second major section of Genesis, the story of Abraham in chapters 12-25. God's unconditional promise to Abraham - his 'covenant' - is the foundation for all the subsequent history of the Bible. At the same time the New Testament points to Abraham as the great example of what it means to have faith in the God. By looking at him we will see lots of things which demonstrate what being a Christian is all about.
That might seem an unnecessary thing to say to Christians - but the writer of the letter to the Hebrews thought otherwise. So he spent 8 chapters of his letter spelling out how Jesus is the only hope for human beings - because he alone can deal with our sin forever and give us real access to God himself. That's what we're going to be looking at this autumn at Trinity Church York, as we study Hebrews 3-10.
Autumn Away Day: Real Relationships - The Bible on Friendship, Marriage & Everything in Between
A wonderful part of being a Christian is that in Jesus we can have relationships with people which are far better, stronger and richer than we could without him. We'll be thinking about what that means for our friends, our wife or husband, and anyone in between.
The Ten Commandments: God's Character for God's People
On Sunday mornings we are looking at the 10 commandments, the central part of what the Bible calls God's 'Law'. As we'll see, it's both rather bad news and very good news for us ... bad because we can't live up to it on our own, but incredibly good because Jesus came to save us precisely so that we can. And being a reflection of God's own character, it is the very best way we can possibly live.
On Sunday 4th March we started a series of sermons on the week in Jesus' life which led up to his death and resurrection. Jesus was proclaimed as King at the same time as he was condemned as a criminal ... and there is more connection between the two than you might think.
Please join us to find out about what Jesus claimed he was doing, and who he claimed to be. And why that matters so much for all of us.