John W

Romans 14 - Showing love in disputable matters - John W

Guidance for how we should live when we disagree with each other over disputable matter.

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What is a ‘disputable matter’ and why is this an issue?
What principles does Romans 14 give us when it comes to disputable matters?
Leaning from these principles and what happens when they are followed and when they are not followed

What is a disputable matter in Romans 14?

This is an area where… A) there is ‘freedom’

Theologically there is freedom. There are no instructions to ‘always do this’ or to ‘never do this’
It may be that the Bible directly gives freedom, or it may be a matter where the Bible is quiet (God gives no direct command)
Many things in our lives are in this ‘grey zone’

Where… B) We do things differently

Where there is freedom, for a variety of reasons different people have different ways of looking at the issue, and as a result end up doing different things
The disputable matters are referring to ‘things we do’, the ‘way we live our life’
A person who believes this is right can do this action and give thanks to God
A person who believes this is wrong, cannot do this action and give thanks to God

Where C) We have different preferences and beliefs

These preferences are often based on ‘deeply’ held beliefs.
They may be based in our past experiences, in our culture – as such they are not ‘nothing’ but are very important to us

Principles for managing disputable matters

1. Accept one another

We are to accept those God has accepted.
We don’t get to make the choice. It is God who does the choosing!
We are to accept one another just as Christ has accepted us

How has Jesus accepted us? Jesus didn’t put me on probation and give me some tests to pass, he accepted me as I am, knowing that I would fail. He accepted me on the basis of His righteousness, not on the basis of my righteousness. We are to accept others warmly, without reservation, without holding back, without qualification, just as Jesus has accepted us.

2. Be Convinced in Your own Mind, and Live for the LORD

In a disputable matter each person should be fully convinced in their own mind.
Don’t ignore the matter. Bring the matter to God, and make a clear decision based on what you believe God wants you to do
Is this beneficial: Does it help by walk with God?
Is this beneficial: Does it help others?
Is this beneficial: Will this help the advance of the Gospel?
When we accept others, this allows space for God to direct peoples lives (we need to let go, and let God)

3. Each of us will give an account of ourselves to God

Lk 6v37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
We need to focus on our own account, not on the account of others
We are not in a position to judge or treat others with contempt, as we don’t fully understand the situation
Our brother and sister will not stand before us, but before God
As God will judge me, I should think about how I am living my life, rather than trying to control others

4. Live a life of Love: Choose to limit your freedom for the benefit of others

1 Cor 9 [19] Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.

Although I give you the freedom to make your decisions, I don’t demand you give me the freedom to allow me to always express my own decisions… Rather I will modify my behaviour to help rather than harm others

Make up your mind: Make a conscious decision,

Not to stumble others: By encouraging someone to do something they are convinced they should not do
Not to obstruct others: By stopping someone from doing something God has given them the liberty to do

5. Living by Faith

Heb 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see
Living by faith means that we are trusting in God, and obeying what God has convinced us of and has laid on our conscience
If we go against what God has convinced us is right, we are going against our conscience
When we go against the conscience God has given us, we are not loving God will all our heart, soul and mind. WE are moving away from God. This is sin

6. We should do what builds up others, because we follow the example of Jesus (Rom15v1-3)

The What would Jesus Do (WWJD) test.

We choose to accept others, because Jesus has accepted us [15v7]
We choose to limit our freedom for the benefit of Others, because this is what Jesus did for us [15v1-3 For even Christ did not please himself]

Luke 22 [42] “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

The Legalistic Church

A legalistic church is one where everyone needs to be the same…

Legalists love to tell you how to live your life

They have a list of do’s and do nots which not only applies to them, but also to everyone else as well (we should all have our own list, but it should stay as our own list)

If you follow the list of rules, then over time the rules tend to become more important than the truth

The legalistic church is uncomfortable with people who are different and do not agree on all points (both in terms of what we do and what we believe)

We must all be the same in all areas of our life (everyone should drive their car at the same speed as I do)

We should think and behave the same in areas such as…

Drinking, Smoking
Dancing, Styles of worship, type of music we listen to, use of drums
What we view (no mixed martial arts), What sort of books we read
What we think about home schooling
What we think about reproduction and contraception
What we wear to church, what we can do on Sunday
Playing cards…………………………………

The outcome

The church either dies (by closing or becoming a club) or it changes

The temptation

Don’t let you enthusiasm and zeal for God and your personal convictions lead you into a position where you want to influence others in ‘disputable matters’
Don’t build a fort where ‘everyone agrees’

Principles in disputable matters

  1. Accept one another

  2. Be convinced in your own mind, and live for the God

  3. Focus on your own account with God

  4. Choose to limit your freedom for the benefit of others

  5. Live by faith

  6. Follow the example of Jesus

Romans 11:27-36 God's plan of salvation - John W

Gods plan of salvation as demonstrated through the life, past present and future of Israel and the Church. The text is a picture of the olive tree which represents the blessing and goodness of God. In God's eternal plan he will enable the natural and un-natural branches to be grafted in to the New Covenant where all people will know him, there will be forgiveness, a belonging to God, and an inner transformation.

PowerPoint slides download Romans 11:27-36

Open Worship - Basis and Practice - John W

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At Cornerstone we allow a time each week for a period we call Open Worship. For anyone used to a structured service or liturgy, where all the teaching, praise, prayer and singing is fully arranged beforehand, a period where you don’t know what happens next can be quite unusual.

Today, John unpacks the basis for worship, when we should worship and how it applies in a church setting.

John takes his references from 1 Cor 1:14 where conduct with a gathered group of believers is described by Paul in response to a series of difficulties that the Corinthian church had been experiencing.

  • Worship comes from a heart that responds to God. Worship motivates us and impacts on everything we think, say and do

  • Open Worship has similarities (and differences) to, and is based on the principles taught in 1 Cor 14: Equality, plurality of participation, encouragement, order and freedom, being lead by the Holy Spirit

  • It is a time where we can respond to God both individually and as a church

  • It is a time to put God first, both in our own life and in the life of the church

Please pray for your leaders, that we will correctly apply the overall meaning, emphasis, and the details of the scriptures to Open Worship as we practice it

Romans 5:1-11 The bad, the good and really good - John W

John reads to us Romans 5:1-11 and asks three questions:

  • Does our faith measure up under oppression and persecution? Rom 5: 1-5

  • How do we know God loves us? evidence Rom 5: 6-8

  • Can we be sure we are saved from Gods wrath. Rom 5:9-11 Can we rely upon Jesus?

In considering this passage he also reflects upon the recent controversy generated by Israel Folau.
Is it hateful to give someone a warning? The truth is that it is hateful to be indifferent and to say nothing. The opposite of love is not hate but indifference. What John concludes though is that the message in Folau’s tweet wasn’t untrue but rather it is incomplete. The remedy needs to be given as well. He suggests the followup Tweet needs to be ‘For all have sinned including me, and fallen but the gift of god is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord’

Vs 1 says ‘Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’'

The benefits of the righteousness we have in Christ when we believe is very good news.

  • We have peace with God; we have been reconciled.

  • We stand in Grace through whom we have access by faith

  • We can rejoice or boast in the hope of the glory of God

  • God has poured his love into our hearts; we are not separate or independent from God, He indwells us with His Holy Spirit.

  • We have been reconciled with God.

Romans 3:5-20 The effects of sin - John W

PowerPoint Download Romans 3:5-20

Rom 1-3, how God deals with the question of sin.

How has it affected NZ?

March 15, 2019, the Christchurch mosque killing was probably the most violent act ever experienced in NZ. Why did it happen. Why did the gunman hate the victims so much? Where is the justice?

Why are there so many reports of sexual abuse and unreported cases of violence on young men and women in hostel care at university when they should expect to be safe?

Why do people have no respect for the goods of others and steal the goods of others meant to bring wellness and happiness. 

This post Christian NZ, 2019. Have you ever felt angry because of someone else’s sin? Have you felt bullied or threatened? Do you feel safe? If someone in your family was innocently killed would you be angry? But John asks whether we have ever been burdened or upset at our own sin. About habits you cannot break. Lying, stealing, ignoring the needs of others. Have you ever wanted a second chance to put things right? Have you ever sought forgiveness or wept over your sin?

Would the world be a better place if you could put right the things that are wrong?

How do we deal with sin? Intellectually we try and deny it exists but practically we spend vast sums of money to counter its effects with police, defence, secret service, and hospitals because we have to live a world that is safe.

How does God deal with sin? In the first three chapters of Romans, God gives the treatment that all have sinned and the next 5 chapters He gives the treatment. Eternal life in Christ Jesus. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ.

Romans 1 tells us that the natural man is controlled by sin. Chapter 2, the moral person fails to meet their own standards. You have no excuse you who pass judgement on someone else. The speck on in your brother’s eye is not as severe as the plank in your own eye. Both you and your brother have a problem, but we tend to look past our own failings and amplify the failures of others.

By taking reflection on our own failings we learn to be more understanding and sensitive to the needs of others.

Rom 3:5 tells us that sin effects the whole person, even our reasoning ability. If our falsehood enhances God's glory, then why don’t we just sin more to make God look even better. An illogical argument because it favours us. We want to replace truth with clever arguments and finish up arguing that the exact opposite true. God shouldn’t be angry with us because we somehow make God look better. But God will judge the world.

Rom 3:8 let us just do evil that good may result? Illogical. But we also argue that we don’t have to do demonstrate our faith by good works, or we can continue to live in sin so that grace may increase. Flawed, self-interested arguments. We have died to sin so how can we continue to live in it?

A principle of living a righteous living is deciding to die to sin. When we accepted Jesus, we made a decision to die to sin. When we think and talk about our sin, we are not neutral parties. We distort the facts. We need to listen to what God says and understand his righteousness is that we have a correct view of our sin.

All Jews and Gentiles are under the power of sin because no one can keep God's standards. There is no one righteous. No one who understands. No one with a character of moral excellence. No one who completely desires to search out God. No one who never sins.

We are all created in the image of God and can do good things but no one is immune from the stain of sin and our heart motivation is short of God's holiness.

The sin impacts all aspects of our life. The way of peace we do not know. What we say, what we do, what we think. It leads to speech that destroys others, the poison of a viper, cursing and bitterness. Destructive speech is quick to become destructive actions. Sin makes false promises of peace and never delivers. War and conflict continue dominate the world. We have no fear of God before our eyes and the mindset of sin is to remove God from our thought, thinking we can live independent of Him.

The solution for sin does not come from within but only by an intervention from God to provide a different type of righteousness, the righteousness of God.

The good news of Romans is that God will share His righteousness with us.

Message 4 of 4: What determines my identity? - Ross P John W

Our value as a human being is much greater than our sexuality. We are of infinite value because we are created in the image of God.

This message uses the audio from three sources:

Sam Allbury address to 2017 Anglican Synod, London, Feb 15, 2017
His brief remarks were very compelling as he challenged the assembly on their approach to the Christian doctrine on marriage. “My question to the bishops is not, ‘Will you preserve this doctrine?,’ but ‘Do you really believe in it? Is it good news for the world?,'” he said. “Many of us have found it to be life-giving, as the message and teaching of Jesus always is.”

Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Coalition, 'What Most Surprised Her About Christians When She Became One'

Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Coalition, 'Sexuality and Identity' Aug 21, 2015


Matthew 27:27-66 The cross of Christ, the death of the King - John W

John examines the crucifixion: The cross of Christ, the death of the King

This message emphasises the things Matthew has written. Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? It was an unjust trial, a cruel execution, a predicted drama (even in the smallest details), a great victory and glorious salvation.

The ‘legal process’
The mocking of the King
Being forsaken
The surrounding events where God indicates the significance of what is happening
Surely this was the son of God
Securing the tomb
(Powerpoint notes: Mt27)

Legal process
Jesus was criticised by the authorities for no obeying the  rules or follow the traditions of the elders but they broke 22 of their own rules.

If you are determined to do something, it doesn’t matter what waring signs you get because you do it anyway. Warning signs come ups but you just filter them out.
The 22 broken rules were warning signs to the leaders but they didn’t want to listen.

1. No arrest was to be influenced by a bribe (Ex 23:8) [Judas].
2. No criminal proceedings should be carried out after sunset.
3. The judges (or Sanhedrin members) were not allowed to participate in an arrest.
4. There were to be no trials before the morning sacrifice.
5. All trials had to be in public. There were to be no secret trials [Jesus reminds them ‘I spoke nothing in secret]
6. Sanhedrin trials could only be performed in the Hall of Judgement in the temple compound.
7. The proper procedure was that the defence would be first, and then the accusation (opposite to our legal system).
8. All may argue in favour of acquittal, but not all may argue in favour of conviction (the accused had to have at least one defender).
9. There had to be two or three witnesses whose testimony had to agree in every detail (Deut 19:15).
10. There was to be no allowance for the accused to testify against himself [Caiaphas charges Jesus under oath to do this].
11. The high priest was not to tear his garments (Lev 21:10).
12. Charges could not originate with the judges [The judges accuse him of blasphemy].
13. The accusation of blasphemy was only valid if the name of God was pronounced [Jesus did not use Gods name, forcing them to also break this rule].
14. A person could not be condemned on the basis of his own words. There had to be two witnesses [Matt 26:65 “Why do we need any more witnesses”].
15. The verdict could not be announced at night, only in the day time.
16. In cases of capital punishment the trial and guilty verdict could not occur at the same time. They must be separated by 24 hours.
17. Voting for the death penalty had to be done by individual count, beginning with the youngest.
18. A unanimous decision for guilt shows innocence as it is impossible for 23-71 men to agree without plotting [They all condemned him to be worthy of death].
19. The sentence could only be pronounced three days after the guilty verdict.
19. Judges were to be humane and kind [spat, blindfold, beat].
21. A person condemned to death was not to be scourged or beaten beforehand.
22. No trial was allowed on the eve of the Sabbath or on a feast day.

If God gives you a warning sign, stop. Don’t do it.

Mocking of the King. 
Matthew emphasises the mocking unwittingly fulfils the prophecies of the old testament. Ps 22. They hurl insults. Pierce my hands.
They fulfilled the very words spoken 1000 years before.
Christ is silent. He does not respond. Is 53:7
King fulfils what was predicated. 

Being forsaken.
Outrage…Syrian nerve gas while victims were sleeping. Everyone is waiting for death. What sort of emotion does this horror provoke. Saturated with bad news, how does it make you feel? Angry.
From noon until 3, why have you forsaken me. Deserted, left behind. He became sin for us. Sin is serious. We forget how serious sin is. It is so common place. Through the whole bible narrative the only way to cover sin is with a blood sacrifice. At the cross Jesus took the price of sin upon himself. So that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.
Jesus took the full legal price of sin.

Another warning. A divine book written by the hand of God.
No punishment in Israel where you pierced someones hands and feet when Ps 22:16 was written by David.

Nature acknowledged what was going on even if the people didn’t.  The curtain tearing announced a new way open for those who want to come to God. Anyone can walk in to the holy of holies if they are covered by the blood of Christ.

Consequences of the Cross
Sin is defeated
Death is defeated
Satan is defeated
Jesus is our advocate
The price of our sin has been paid. 
We can be forgiven

We preach Christ crucified

Matthew 23: What Grieves the heart of God - John W

John reviews the Gospel of Matthew up to the conflict scene with the Pharisees, starting in Chapter 21. The message examines the things that grieves the heart of God through the lens of Jesus. Specifically chapter Matt:23 challenges us on actions that:

1. Closes the door to God's Kingdom, v. 13
2. Leading people away from God to be people like the Pharisees, v. 15
3. Following man-made traditions instead of God's Word, v. 16-22
4. Concentrating on the minutia (legalism) and ignoring what is really important; Justice, Mercy and faithfulness, v.23-24
5. Putting on an act so that you look 'right', v.25-26
6. Not addressing the evil on the inside, v.27-28
7. Rejecting and murdering God's prophets and messengers, v.29-36

Jonah 2: God who restores - John W

John takes us to Jonah Ch 2 with a fresh look and asks

  • Where do we go in distress, do we call on God?
  • Do we acknowledge that we can’t save our selves and that we need God to save us?
  • Have we changed our mind about God so that it is Your kingdom come, Your will be done?
  • Do we believe the sign that He has given us?

The chapter shows us that
God is a God who wants to restore us and give us a second chance.
A picture of God’s greatest sign, the sign of the resurrection, Jesus has overcome death.
Jesus tells us he is the resurrection and the Life.
It gives a parallel view from the Psalms on the suffering of Jesus.


Matthew 1 : Vantage Points - John W

John introduces the Gospel of Matthew and explains the benefit to be gained when many people give different accounts of the same event. Having multiple perspectives brings more detail and different insights depending on what each person saw, and what the witness considered to be important. So it is with the four gospels, with each author shining a different light from a different angle on the life of Jesus, giving us a fuller and more complete picture.

Matthew presents Jesus as Messiah, King of the Jews,  Emanuel, God with us. It is the story of God's kingdom and God's King. The story of grace redemption, restoration and forgiveness of sin.

The first example of the different perspective is found in the geneologies, the family line of Jesus. Matthew's angle concentrates on Jesus the King. It starts with Abraham and goes to David. It looks at the kingly line and then leads to Joseph, We get a view of what happened from Joseph’s perspective when it comes to the birth of the Messiah.

Luke, on the other hand emphasises the Son of Man, and starting with Adam, and instead of the kingly line it goes from David to Nathan, brother of Solomon and leads to Mary. Then we see the angel comes to Mary so we get a description of the birth of Jesus from Mary’s perspective.

John asks the question regarding the qualities we need to have so serve God by looking at the conduct of Joseph and Mary. Joseph: faithful, considerate, self controlled, obedient, respectful
Mary: humble, obedient, worshipful, someone who rejoices in God. These qualities are why God chose these two people to raise His son.

Motivation for the Gospel - 1 Cor 9: John W

John considers how our hearts should be motivated by the great Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and how it effects the choices we make.

Ch 7-10 provide principles to live by in areas of uncertainty. They help us live for the Gospel.

Some things we must do; commands of God, laws of the land that we must not breach. A lot of things we have in life we have a choice over. We need principles to guide us on moral issues.

Paul says all things are permissible but not all things are helpful.

1. Ch7 Does this choice help me keep in step with God? Living for the Lord.
Is everything beneficial. All is permissible but not all things are helpful. Will this decision help me walk closer to God?

2. Ch8, food sacrificed to idols. Living for others. Will this decision help other people? Is it good for others.
People can be destroyed by the choice of someone who has greater knowledge.

3. Ch9 Will this choice help or advance the gospel?
We should surrender our rights so that the gospel is not hindered.

4. Will this decision be helpful or advance the gospel. Will it help me in eternity in running for the prize.
All the runners run but only one person wins the prize so run the race in order to win the prize.

Life of David - Davidic Covenant : John W

John summarises the Life in David series as seen through the Psalms.

Forgiveness; promises of God, a relationship with God to model; goodness and forgives of God as David experienced; conditional and unconditional promises; descendants of David on the Throne, Ps 89, Is 7:13,
We are grafted into the blessings of Israel, fully benefiting from the covenant with David, now and forever more.

What is our response to God's promises, 2 Cor 1:20?