Pohutukawa Coast Presbyterian Church
Clevedon Presbyterian Church
Kawakawa Bay
Clevedon Kidz

Beyond Question and Debate

January 17, 2021
Mark Chapman

Mark 6:31-34  There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his disciples didn't even have time to eat. So he said to them, "Let us go off by ourselves to some place where we will be alone and you can rest awhile."  (32)  So they started out in a boat by themselves to a lonely place.  (33)  Many people, however, saw them leave and knew at once who they were; so they went from all the towns and ran ahead by land and arrived at the place ahead of Jesus and his disciples.  (34)  When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw this large crowd, and his heart was filled with pity for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began to teach them many things.


Ephesians 3:16-21  I ask God from the wealth of his glory to give you power through his Spirit to be strong in your inner selves,  (17) and I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love,  (18)  so that you, together with all God's people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ's love.  (19)  Yes, may you come to know his love—although it can never be fully known—and so be completely filled with the very nature of God.  (20)  To him who by means of his power working in us is able to do so much more than we can ever ask for, or even think of:  (21)  to God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever! Amen.


Beyond Question and Debate

January 17 2021

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of our hearts, be acceptable in your

sight O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen


So following on from last week

the church over the years has by and large

created a scenario

of a God who when you are this side of death

loves you with a never ending passion and graciousness,

but who when you die and don’t believe in Him

for whatever reason

and that would be the vast majority of people who have ever lived

seems to delight in making you suffer in torment.


Brothers and sister

this interpretation of the Bile

makes no sense what-so-ever.


There is however a different story line

that many have come to know

and which I believe you and I instinctively know

if we allow ourselves to re think

to repent, think again

of things concerning God.

So Jesus comes and begins His ministry with:


Repent, or turn from your sin

and believe the good news about God.


Sin being that state where we fall short of

the nature of God

failing to love or be able to love as God is love.

And so He began His ministry of Grace and mercy.


To be a Christian is to follow the master

and learn of the nature of God

and live out that nature in all of life.

The problems has been

the Bible is open to so many different interpretations

some claiming to be the true interpretation

and I think we have to move beyond debate

and beyond getting tied up in silly debates on who is right and who is wrong and


fall in love with the God we k now in Jesus

and allow His love to transform us.

When that happens, nothing else matters.

You know who you are, you know the divine lover.

It’s so simple.


So by way of illustration.

Imagine that you see from a distance

a person

to whom you feel a strong attachment.

There is some beauty there that you instinctively desire.

And that person from ‘across the crowded room’,

as the song goes,

sees the same in you

and in fact puts their  heart on their sleeve

and writes you a truly, truly, loving letter

that speaks of their love for you

part of which is an invitation to meet

and speak face to face, of these mutual feelings.


And you get this letter

and you are so excited

so much so that you clasp the letter tightly to you

and read it over and over

until you know it by heart.

And you show it to people

and you are blown away by the feelings expressed.


Truly is a loving letter.

Then, the letter slowly begins to take the place of the writer

so much so

that you neglect the invitation

to meet,

and the letter itself becomes the writer..


But somewhere along the line

the people you’ve shown it to

begin to interpret it for you.

And much of what they say is not what you understand the letter to be saying.

So a kind of doubt begins to arise in you

and as the years go by

you begin to question if what you understood was right.

And you wonder if the words were true

that he or she wrote.


And in the midst of your growing anxiety

a good friend comes to you

and asks you why you are so confused.

They remind you that the letter had an invitation.

an invitation to meet, face to face

and speak of your attraction.

And they ask, what happened then when you met?


And your response is:

Well actually we didn’t meet.

The words in the letter were enough

at least I thought they were

but others have told me I read it wrong.

And maybe this person

has no love for me

and maybe it was a delusion on my part

that someone could love me in such a way.


They told me there was a catch to it.


Then the visitor says to you

but had you accepted the invitation

had you opened your heart,

not just your intellect

and allow the writer to embrace you

and pour their love into you

you would have discovered something so deep, so beyond your mind.


A discovery that found you encircled

in a love of which you have little knowledge,

a love unlike human love.

And had you done that

you would have

discovered there a heart that has beaten for you before the beginning of time.

I’m saying we need to know the writer

to be able to understand the letter.


Mere words on a page are not enough

we need to know the personality behind the words,

a knowledge not of the mind

rather a knowledge of the heart

such as only true lovers know.


For has not the lover said: the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life?


And then knowing that love

all childish

and immature thoughts of such things as hell

and who is right and who is wrong

and all the things that divide, vanish

and in the lovers embrace

the embrace of God

you know:

all will be well, and all will be well. and all manner of things will be well.

I know the writers heart

it will be O.K. in the end.


And then can you say with David:

The LORD is my shepherd

in His care I have everything I need,

He leads me to pastures of green grass and quiet pools

He restores me to Himself when I stray off the path!

And even if I go through the deepest darkness

even in places where wild animals could kill me

I will not be afraid

for Thou art with me!


Brothers and sisters, this is not a head thing

this is not a correct interpretation of the Bible thing.

We can not interpret the Bile until we know the heart of the author.

This is not the result of

endless Bible study,

this is pure unadulterated surrender to the Divine lover

where no words can be found

for no words

can express such love.


The apostle Paul writes: 1Co 1:20-21  So then, where does that leave the wise? or the scholars? or the skillful debaters of this world? God has shown that this world's wisdom is foolishness! (21)  For God in his wisdom made it impossible for people to know him by means of their own wisdom.

We cannot do it.


When Israel walks away from God

and spurns God

God’s response is:

You want to give me up

but how can I give you up.

My heart, not my wisdom as God, not my intellect,

my heart will not let me do it.

I will not come to you in anger.


Someone once wrote,

if you have done things that make you afraid of God

the safest place to run

is in to God.

The Divine lover is also your hiding place.


Now unto God the Father, God the Son and God, the holy Spirit, be all the honour and

glory, world without end. Amen

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