Sunday, February 07, 2010

Back to Transcribing - Rob Rufus and Stanley Jebb!!

As many of you know my transcribing has been through a quiet patch - it is so incredibly difficult finding the time to sit down with a glorious sermon and type it out. Working 07:30 to 18:30 many days followed by an intense gym session (I'm training for a half marathon at the end of the month in Brighton!) - it is so hard to find the time! I hate that excuse. I've never had any patience with pastors who have told me that they can't do this or do that because they are "too busy" - but am slowly beginning to understand how busy life can often be.

However I've started two transcribing projects - one is a sermon by the wonderful Rob Rufus. I neglect this servant of God at my peril. It sounds over the top - but hell does not want anyone listening to Rob. He has such an insight into the doctrines of grace that the devil will do anything (including sowing suspicion, lies about him and City Church International) to just stop hearing what he preaches! But everytime I do listen to Rob - my soul is immeasurably blessed. I am typing his message: "“Wisdom for 2010” - the first sermon of 2010 on the 3rd of January 2010 at City Church International.

I love the opening sermons of the year at City Church International - it often lays down the gauntlet for what to expect from the year and this sermon is no different. Rob starts by making a statement about what he expects from 2010. A small part of me cringes when preachers make prophetic statements about what God may do. That's no fault on the part of the preachers. That is a fault on my small faith. I am scared of daring to believe. But Rob said;

"But I am deeply impressed after five weeks of waiting on God – I am deeply impressed that 2010 is a year of blessings that will surpass ANY previous year for the people of grace! You could say that is one of those optimistic, New Year hopes again! No – no. I am believing that for 2010 the will of God is to bring unprecedented blessings for the people of grace that is beyond any previous year we have EVER experienced! That will always be with difficulties and hardships. The blessings will cause many more hardships to come at you but you will be so blessed you will handle it well!"

Rob then moved on to state what he feels will be the devil's main strategy in 2010;

"I am also deeply impressed by the Spirit of God when the enemy’s main strategy and main plot will be to con us through false wisdom out of the blessing. I pray that everyone who listens to this message hears this – the enemy’s main strategy will be to con us through false wisdom or fake wisdom or worldly wisdom or “human” (1st Corinthians) wisdom or the “wisdom of this age” – to give us convincing cons as to what we should do and he will try to get us out of place and position for the unprecedented jubilee of God".

Again I think there is a balance here that is truly biblical. C S Lewis saw it and portrayed it accurately in his "Screwtape Letters". Some Christians completely ignore the devil's presence and blame all hardships, failures and down times on our "flesh" or I guess SGM may call it "indwelling sin". Essentially if something is going wrong in your life then it's your fault and your sin to blame. The other extreme is the more triumphalistic charismatic stream that blame every hardship on a demon of something or other (Derek Prince perhaps typified this teaching best) - and the way to handle this is to exorcise "everything".

I think Rob strikes a mature and sensible balance. There IS a devil and he DOES have an army of demons who ARE actively present in trying to bring down Christians. Rob makes the case that the devil doesn't really care what the issue is he assaults us with. He isn't bothered if Christians live an immoral life or a deceitful life. What he is bothered about is that we lose faith in God. And Rob defines faith as;

"Faith is a good opinion about God. If you have any suspicion towards God then you are listening to a demonic voice; “Did God really say?”.

A good opinion about God. Some Christians may be shocked at that - how can we not have a good opinion about God? But the question is - who do we normally blame when things are tough? Some Christians even dare to say things like; "I'll trust God IF He does this for me". No - true faith is having a good enduring opinion about God and never asking; "Did God really say ... ?".

And being a true gospel preacher Rob then expounded the wonders of the Cross of Christ like I've never heard before. Read this:

"Faith is easy when we have a clear picture of Christ crucified.

1. He wore a crown of thorns so that you and I can wear a crown of glory!

2. On the Cross He was rejected so that you and I can forever and ever be sons of the Father.

3. On the Cross HE looked up and His Father wasn’t there, so that forever we can look up forever the smiling face of our Father is there – after our worst sin, the smiling face of the Father will ALWAYS be there, because that sin was put on Jesus and the face of the Father was withdrawn from Jesus. The great exchange means that forever we can look up and our Father’s face will NEVER not be there and will always be smiling!

It is impossible for Father to withdraw His face! If He ever does then He must implode into oblivion and to nothingness and non-existence because He has violated the law of double jeopardy and has lost all credibility. He cannot punish the same sin twice! Father is permanently there with love and favour and position to desperately want to bless you if you will repent and change your thinking and return to grace!

4. He was made your sin so you may be made His righteousness.

5. He died young so that you can live long.

6. He created the heavens and earth and on the Cross lost everything so we can gain everything! We gain the universe the New Testament says!

7. One of the last things Jesus saw was His garments being gambled over by soldiers while He hung naked so we can be clothed in favour.

8. He took our curse so that we can receive His blessings. In all these things, persecutions, disappointments, betrayals we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us! We rest in the finished work of the Cross!".

True Cross-centered preaching will inevitably build faith. How can we not look at the Cross of Christ in it's true glory and not have a good opinion about God? The trouble is I have sat through too many allegedly "Cross-centred" sermons that are nothing to do with the true Gospel because those sermons raised condemnation and produce legalism and "lists of things" to do. I love the way that Rob Rufus broke down why the Cross was the master plan of God - to bring about the salvation of many!

I've taken up too much time - other than to say that the other sermon I am working on is a recent sermon of Stanley Jebb's that he preached at a church near Southampton on worship. It's interesting to hear. I hope to publish Rob's sermon soon!

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