• Service times

    Services times are:

    Saturday night 7:30 pm for our Chinese/English service. (Pastor Daniel Choi.)

    Sunday 10 am for our English language service (Senior Pastor Jeff Whittaker).

    Sunday 11:30 am for our Chinese (Mandarin) language service. (Pastor Daniel Choi.)

  • Contact details…

    Physical and postal address:
    4 Inverary Avenue,
    Epsom,
    Auckland 1023,
    NEW ZEALAND.

    Email:
    epsombaptist@gmail.com

    Telephone:
    (0064 9) 6306010

    Contacts:
    Rev. Jeff Whittaker
    Pastor Daniel Choi

  • Church Officers…

    Church Treasurer: Ann Guan

    Church Secretary: Margaret Whittaker

    Church Deacons: Anne Bartley, Ian de Stigter, Kristy Choi, Willa Hui, Donglan Zhang and Alfred Zhou.

Confession and the Kingdom…

Following is a piece written by Dr. Martin Sutherland, Academic Dean and Vice-Principal at New Zealand’s Laidlaw College, and member of Epsom Baptist Church.

The scene in Matthew 11:2-6 where John the Baptist sends his disciples to quiz Jesus has always intrigued me. John came preaching a ‘gospel’ of fire and repentance and then endorses Jesus as the one to consummate this visitation of God. But all Jesus seems to do is heal people! Has John backed the wrong horse? Jesus responds by pointing to signs which are clearly associated with the Messiah, but John must still have been left wondering.

Any doubt is removed by the end of chapter 12.

In a series of unprecedented and unmatched incidents, Jesus provocatively takes the argument to the Pharisees. He flouts the Sabbath rules over plucking grain (1-8) and then healing a man at the synagogue (9-14). Each time it is as if he has deliberately set up a confrontation. He thumbs his nose at the religious authorities and then embarks on a mass public campaign of messianic healing (15-21). This is too much for the Pharisees. They brand him as devilish (24). The situation is now, literally, irredeemable. Jesus not only destroys their logic but brands them arch-blasphemers, a nest of snakes. The unforgiving are now the unforgivable (31-32).

Just to make clear the enormity of what he is doing Jesus even declares a new society, a new family (46-50). Nothing of the old order continues the same. This gospel forces choice. It turns the world upside down. Jesus will be a branded man hereafter. John has his answer.

This is clearly a key moment in Jesus’ public ministry. Crucially it all turns on his first response to the Pharisees. What does God want? Law? Purity? Sacrifice? Only if they are expressions of mercy (12:7). But this chapter forces us to think far deeper than outmoded customs and rules. Jesus drives to the basic building blocks of community. Even family is denied any absolute place. All must be subsumed under this radical gospel of mercy and love.

The church is called to be that new community, no longer defined by law and ritual or even natural loyalties. Sadly, our natural default is to become a new version of the Pharisees. Here confession is crucial. Why is it that we have a tradition of laying our self open to the mercy of God? Surely;, because as individuals we are conscious of our own failings; but it’s also to remind us of our corporate sin. It is easy, too easy, too comfortable, to settle back in the warm bath of clear-cut religion – religion with rules, with payment, with sacrifice, religion where we can maintain our default power structures under a veneer of spirituality. This isn’t the gospel. The gospel breaks rules, forces choice, challenges assumptions.

When we come to confess, we open ourselves to the disruptive possibility that the Holy Spirit might actually make something new of us. Be careful what you wish for.

 

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